"Trout fishing enthusiasts should be worried -- but so should anyone who drinks water in the northeastern corner of Iowa."

That's according to Dr. David Osterberg of the Iowa Policy Project (IPP), a nonpartisan public policy research and analysis organization based in Iowa City. Osterberg and Aaron Kline, a graduate student in the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa, released the results of a study this week, which addresses the public health impact of frac-sand mining in Northeast Iowa.

In the study, which was unanimously endorsed by the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors in July, the researchers said, "The environmental and aesthetic assets of Northeast Iowa may be threatened by the growing attraction of the area for this specialty sand mining."

The study cites potential impacts of declining water quantity, water quality issues and harm to tourism in Iowa's "Bluff Country." It references a U.S. Travel Association report that Allamakee and Winneshiek counties generated approximately $68 million in domestic travel expenditures leading to over 500 travel-related jobs in 2012.

"Contrast that ... to the short-term promise of frac-sand mining ... This can be a terribly risky proposition, and local officials are right to be asking questions about it and wanting assurances they can protect their region," said Osterberg.

For more on this story, see Tuesday's Public Opinion.