Iowa has a distinguished history for being in the forefront of wastewater treatment innovations, but the state's border...

Iowa air quality monitors have recorded 42 exceedances of ambient air quality standards from sulfur dioxide pollution...

The steady decade-long decline in admissions and revenue at Bettendorf's Isle of Capri casino continued in fiscal 2014...

Another year with heavy rainfall. Another year with flooding. And, another year of pumping raw sewage into the Mississippi...

A proposed land swap of Bettendorf's Forest Grove Park property would give a Texas-based land developer nearly five acres...

Build it and bikes will come

By Jill Richardson

Did you see the baseball movie Field of Dreams? Even if you didn’t, you’ve probably heard the phrase “If you build it, they will come” — which it immortalized.

Well, how about “If you don’t build it, they won’t come”?

When it comes to bicycles, cars, and public transportation, both sayings are true (even though one is decidedly catchier than the other).

I recently moved back to Madison, Wisconsin after spending eight years in San Diego, California. I used to bike to work when I lived here before and bike for fun on the weekends. Now that I’m back, I’m commuting by bike once again.

Three candidates on special Sept. 23 ballot to fill vacancy on Bettendorf Park Board

Three candidates are on the September 23 special election ballot to fill a vacant seat on the Bettendorf Park Board.

Thomas Dryg, of 3826 Brookwood Lane, David Pratt, of 220 Bechtel Road, and Sandy Smith-Henzen, of 914 14th St., are seeking to fill the unexpired term of Frank Braden, who was elected to the city council earlier this year.

Long history of Iowa border cities using Mississippi, Missouri Rivers for sewage disposal

Iowa has a distinguished history for being in the forefront of wastewater treatment innovations, but the state's border communities were holdouts in building sewage treatment plants and allowed to dump untreated municipal and industrial wastes into the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers long after other cities along smaller streams were required to treat wastewater, according to a history of Iowa's water pollution control published in 1974 by the Iowa Water Pollution Control Association.

Writing in "Iowa's Heritage in Water Pollution Control," State Sanitary Engineer Paul Houser noted that the state's largest border cities along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were exempted from state stream pollution laws enacted in 1923 and 1949 "thanks to the lobbying power of the border cities and their industries.

"In fact, the exemption also included the lower 5,000 feet of any tributary, which was written specifically to protect the Sioux City meat packers dumping their untreated wastes into the Floyd River," Houser wrote.

City administrator asks council: should city accept high debt level for next five years?

Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn is asking the city council if it wants to stay the course on a 10-year expansion of city debt – now $132 million and within 17 percent of the legal maximum – to continue to fund an "aggressive" program for capital improvements from streets to so-called "WOW" projects under discussion.

In his presentation to the council August 25, Ploehn said historically low bond interest rates and the need to fix and expand streets in the city justify the high debt strategy adopted five years ago by the council. He also pointed out that additional significant bonding may be required for the possible WOW projects, which were listed as: development of I-80/Middle interchange; sports complex; replacement of city pool, fitness center and community center with a new recreation facility; and a potential riverfront development project.

Davenport sewage treatment plant discharged 317 million gallons of partially treated sewage into Mississippi River after heavy rains, flooding

Davenport's wastewater treatment plant dumped 317 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the Mississippi River in late June and early July after heavy rains and river flooding overwhelmed the treatment capacity of the plant along Concord Street.

Flood water and storm water runoff infiltrated sewer lines after the heavy rains and the plant began "bypassing" secondary treatment of the sewage, dumping an average of 10 million gallons of sewage per day into the river after only primary treatment of the wastewater. Primary treatment only involves removal of solids from the wastewater, essentially bypassing the normal secondary biological treatment of the waste.

The sewage "bypassed" by the Davenport plant was in addition to the 129 million gallons of sewage Bettendorf pumped into the river during the same period.

Isle reports $2.3 million loss in first quarter; stock price climbs nearly 5% in past week

Despite a $2.3-million loss for its first quarter ended July 27, Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. stock gained nearly 5 percent this week to close Friday (8/29) at $8.27 per share.

Stock in the St. Louis-based gambling firm – owner of the Bettendorf casino riverboat – had climbed to more than $10 per share in July after rumors surfaced about a possible buy-out of the company by a real estate investment trust. The stock price had since fallen to nearly $7 a share earlier this month before the recent run-up.

The first quarter loss of $2.3 million, or $6 cents a share, compares to a loss of $4.9 million, 12 cents per share, for the first quarter last year.

Net revenues totaled $241 million for the first quarter, compared to $238 million for the same period a year ago.

You asked for it Mr. Hawkeye AD

The University of Iowa Athletic Department has hired a marketing firm to find out why it can't fill each of Kinnick Stadium's 70,000 seats and attract more students to every home Hawkeye football game.

As the parent of a marching band member, I'm in a unique position to give an unbiased assessment to the university. I like football and the Hawkeyes, but I would not have attended any of the home games last year if not to watch the halftime show.

These are in no special order, so feel free to pick and choose my "solutions" to the falling number of fans, particularly students, at Hawkeye games.

• The games are slower than baseball. Television time-outs take any air of momentum out of the game and fans have way too much time to ponder why they are sitting in cramped hard seats in extremely hot or cold weather while football players stand around waiting to get the signal to play from a guy in a red hat who seems to control the entire contest. Seriously, last year in 90 degree weather, the first half took more than two hours. Last time I checked, a half in a football game was only 30 minutes long.

• Fans must be required to sit down, and stay seated, unless they are jumping to their feet to watch an exciting play. Why pay $50 for a seat, and then be required to stand the entire game to actually see the players on the field. I watched most of the game on the jumbotron replay because other fans were blocking my view. I contend most of the standing by fans is not related to excitement on the field, but seats the width of a small plate. . . on which most fans can no longer fit their derrière.

Lee loses $9.7 million in third quarter; encouraged by digital subscription initiative

Lee Enterprises reported a loss of $9.7 million for the third quarter ended June 29, after paying $19.7 million in interest expense and $21.7 million in debt financing costs in the period.

The Davenport-based company – publisher of the Quad City Times and Muscatine Journal – lost 19 cents per share in the third quarter, compared with a 3 cent per share profit for the same period a year ago.

Despite the loss, company officials were upbeat in their remarks to stock analysts about the growth of digital advertising revenue, mobile advertising and the launch of its "full-access" subscription initiative which seeks to convert print subscribers into paying online subscription customers.

Air pollution exceedances of National Ambient Air Quality Standards on track to surpass 2013

Iowa air quality monitors have recorded 42 exceedances of ambient air quality standards from sulfur dioxide pollution and 13 from fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) pollution during the first seven months of this year.

During all of 2013, a total of 67 exceedances of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) were recorded involving sulfur dioxide along with 15 involving PM 2.5 (particulate matter of less than 2.5 microns) pollution.

As with last year's air monitoring, the majority of the NAAQS exceedances occurred in Muscatine.

City eyes special September election to fill park board vacancy; single voting location planned

Bettendorf aldermen are expected to set a special election September 23 to fill the vacant Bettendorf Park Board seat – created by the election of Frank Baden to the city council July 1.

The city consulted with the Scott County Auditor last month and were told all voting in the special election could be held in one polling location, rather than in each ward, to reduce the cost of an election. The special park board election would be the second special election this year in the city.

City flushes nearly 129 million gallons of sewage into Mississippi River after heavy rains, flooding

The City of Bettendorf had to flush nearly 129 million gallons of sewage into the Mississippi River last month to prevent the Waste Water Treatment Plant in west Davenport from being overwhelmed by sewage, combined with a large volume of storm water that had seeped into Davenport and Bettendorf sewer lines.

The "Sanitary Sewer Overflow Events" began June 30, with eight large pumps transferring sewage from the backed-up sanitary sewer lines into storm water pipes, which flow into the Mississippi River. The pumps ran from June 30 until July 13, according to the report filed by the city with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

Cities must contact the IDNR when it begins "bypassing" sewage treatment by pumping into the river, and it must report the total amount bypassed once the pumping ends. The city filed its report with the state July 15.

The immorality of our economy

Wendell Berry, America’s farmer/poet and advocate for peace and justice, met with Centre College Professor Eric Mount at the Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky May 18 with over 200 people in attendance.

Berry and Mount engaged in a rambling conversation in which Berry explained that when we abstract important concepts that are critical to the real lives of people, we loose their interest in solving real problems that the world faces.

An example of such abstractions is the idea of environmentalism.

People understand their relationship with the air they breathe and the water they drink and the weather events that are destructive.

“Environmentalism” is an abstract concept, something that academics discuss and argue over, but real people want clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and weather patterns that one can plan for and live with.

As the conversation progressed, Berry read a prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer entitled, “For Every Man In His Work.” The prayer, in part, reads as follows: “Deliver us, we beseech thee, in our several callings, from the service of mammon, that we may do the work which thou givest us to do, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as thy servants, and to the benefit of our fellow men.”

Bettendorf casino admissions, revenues fall; declines higher than statewide gambling fall-off

The steady decade-long decline in admissions and revenue at Bettendorf's Isle of Capri casino continued during fiscal 2014.

Admissions for the 12 months ended June 30 fell to 923,000 – more than 1 million fewer than the casino's peak year in fiscal 2000.

Revenues declined to $70.4 million during fiscal 2014, down nearly 6 percent from the previous fiscal year. At its peak in 2004, the Isle had revenues of more than $105 million.

Amid sale rumors, Isle consolidates management to trim $2.5 million in corporate expenses

Amid rumors of its sale to a real estate investment trust, the Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. announced Thursday (7/10) a consolidation of top management positions to cut corporate expenses by $2.5 million annually.

However, the news was not welcomed by investors, as the Isle stock price dropped more than 14 percent today (7/11) declining to $8.55 a share in early trading. Volume was more than five times the average number of stock transactions.

The management changes included the elimination of the executive chairman of the board of directors position, and the departure of the Isle's Chief Financial Officer Dale Black "to pursue other interests."

Familiar scenario: Heavy rain, then floods. . . then pumping sewage into the Mississippi River

Another year with heavy rainfall. Another year with flooding. And, another year of pumping raw sewage into the Mississippi River.

The all-too-familiar scenario is playing out again along the Bettendorf and Davenport riverfront as the Davenport Wastewater Treatment Plant struggles to cope with high flows – a combination of storm water runoff, flood water and sewage – resulting in the backup of interceptor sewer lines along the Bettendorf and Davenport riverfront.

Bettendorf activated its pumps along the riverfront near Leach Park and the Isle of Capri Casino June 29, according to reports filed with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), and in just the initial hours pumped 1.3 million gallons of raw sewage mixed with storm water into the river. The pumps have been pumping since, and a full tally of the sewage disposed in the river is expected when the pumps are turned off. Pumps were still on as of today (10/10) at three locations along the Bettendorf riverfront.

Davenport also reported bypassing of sewage June 30 at the River Drive and Howell St. lift station as well as 11 sewage back-ups in basements and nine sewage manholes overflowing between July 1 and July 3.

During the wet March-June period in 2013, Bettendorf flushed more than 200 million gallons of untreated sewage diluted by storm water into the Mississippi River.

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