Friday, August 29, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News - Friday Edition

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Report Suggests Collaborative Strategies to Reduce Mississippi River Basin Nutrient Pollution
Photo credit: University of Iowa
A U.S. Water Alliance report released last Friday highlights the collaborative strategies that might be undertaken by various Mississippi River Basin stakeholders to reduce nutrient pollution. The 28-page report, "Coming Together to Protect Mississippi River Watersheds: Agriculture and Water Sector Collaboration for Nutrient Progress," is the outcome of a year-long series of conversations among River Basin agriculture, wastewater and drinking water leaders, with the participation of environmental, academic and scientific, business, local, state and Federal agency representatives. It recommends that nutrient loading to the waters of the Basin be reduced by expanding effective watershed-based cooperative leadership and decision-making; developing and implementing market nutrient-reduction mechanisms; improving decision- and market-supporting data, monitoring and modeling; and developing "Watershed Protection Utilities" (institutions focused on cost-effective nutrient-reduction results). The report focuses on nutrient pollution that this summer contributed to a Gulf of Mexico "dead" or hypoxic zone measuring 5,052 square miles, impacting an aquatic ecosystem that supports valuable commercial and recreational Gulf fisheries (you can link to addition articles on the report, below, under "Water Quality").

The Week in Brief
For those of you wishing to avoid the dreaded details, here is our one-paragraph synopsis of the week just past: "What We Learned This Week - 'And It Was Just Right.'"

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • State of the World’s Rivers: Mississippi River Basin among world's top 10 "priority basins for remediation" due to fragmentation, poor water quality http://ow.ly/AM1FS
  • U.S. Water Alliance report highlights collaborative agriculture, water, wastewater strategies to reduce Mississippi River Basin nutrient pollution http://ow.ly/AGtYt  and  http://ow.ly/AGuXx
  • No solutions in sight for Gulf of Mexico dead zone http://ow.ly/AOHSA
  • EPA region 7 administrator discusses nutrient pollution in Iowa waters during Farm Progress Show talk http://ow.ly/AOIlp
  • EPA writes "Mapping the Truth" blog to correct "myths and misunderstandings" about Waters of the United States rule http://ow.ly/AQZKb (related article here: http://ow.ly/AQZSV)
  • Farm groups use mapping technology in latest effort to block EPA from finalizing new
    Iowa map from National Pork Producers Council
    meant to show waters that could be subject to 
    new Clean Water Act rule (Photo credit: NPPC).
    Clean Water Act regulations http://ow.ly/AOyeq
  • House Science Space and Technology Committee posts EPA waters and wetlands maps to its website http://ow.ly/AOAkv
  • EPA says maps released by House committee are not connected to rule clarifying Clean Water Act regulatory authority http://ow.ly/AOAMC
  • House committee asks EPA to release information about 2013 agency contract to create states' waters and wetlands maps http://ow.ly/AOzLm
  • West Virginia plans to sample Elk and Kanawha rivers this week to see if January’s chemical leak affected fish health http://ow.ly/AGmA1
  • Deadly Naegleria fowleri amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana http://ow.ly/ARimC
  • Monitoring of Ohio River continues after last week's Duke Energy plant oil spill http://ow.ly/AJhgJ; spill was larger than first reported http://ow.ly/AJhqd
  • ExxonMobil Pipeline Company agrees to pay a civil penalty related to 2012 crude oil spill from pipeline near Torbert, Louisiana http://ow.ly/ALQoJ
  • Tyson Foods could lose $millions in government contracts if found guilty in EPA criminal probe of Missouri wastewater release http://ow.ly/AJv1F
  • National Environmental Education Foundation launches algal bloom photo conference to help document U.S. algal blooms http://ow.ly/ALOX2
  • Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization is updating its Watershed Management Plan; seeks public comment http://ow.ly/AM3nH
  • EPA awards $9,165,000 to Arkansas Natural Resources Commission for wastewater system improvement projects http://ow.ly/AR0Ui
  • EPA awards $100,000 to Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality for water quality management planning http://ow.ly/AOwVx
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • University of Iowa's $25.7 million flood mitigation construction continues on schedule (Iowa River) http://ow.ly/AJi63
  • Indiana University research: "Goldilocks plant growth" may make river deltas resilient to environmental factors that threaten their existence http://ow.ly/AJjtj
  • Army Corps of Engineers installs new concrete stabilization mats on Mississippi River bank (New Orleans area) http://ow.ly/AJkW6
  • Greenup County, Ky. residents may be barred from buying federal flood insurance because local officials haven't met program requirements http://ow.ly/AJosh
  • Missouri River might help alleviate grain railroad backups, but infrastructure spending, water allocation changes may be needed first http://ow.ly/ALTf2 (see related story under "Resource Development," below)
  • H.R. 5189, Energy and Water Research Integration Act, would advance understanding of, research in energy-water nexus http://ow.ly/AMoJu
  • New Alliance for Water Efficiency campaign encourages rate reform to promote water conservation http://ow.ly/AR2ct
  • Report: Large-scale dams are likely having a detrimental impact on water quality and biodiversity around the world http://ow.ly/ARhMa
Agriculture -
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy editorial: "Right to farm" - Corporate wolves dressed as local sheep http://ow.ly/AR2B7
  • U.S. corn and soybean crops are likely to top records this year, reflecting favorable growing season weather http://ow.ly/AGhNR
  • Even though crop prices are falling, costs to grow next year’s crops is not; will push many U.S. farmers into the red http://ow.ly/AQZkt
  • The August 21 USDA Conservation Compliance for Specialty Crop Producers webinar is archived here: http://ow.ly/AGsR5
  • Corn grit weed blaster tested in Minnesota farm fields showing promise as an alternative to herbicides http://ow.ly/AGAWE
  • Commodity prices have taken a noticeable dip this past year; farmland values will not necessarily follow, however http://ow.ly/AHw9B
  • "Policy Matters" - Evaluating Use of Conservation Policies for Pollinators http://ow.ly/AQZ5a
Climate and Weather -
  • U.N. draft report cites “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts" of climate change http://ow.ly/ALPhX
  • Shorter winters in Rockies could limit supplies for downstream users (i.e., Missouri River Basin) http://ow.ly/AR1SV
  • Obama administration working on global non-binding climate accord to “name and shame” countries into reducing carbon emissions http://ow.ly/AM5Tc
  • Washington Post editorial: "The country’s sinking climate debate" http://ow.ly/AGjb6
  • NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook report through November 30: drought alleviation in Plains expected http://ow.ly/ALPO7
  • Weekly U.S. drought update: Midwest dryness retreats, except in Missouri, where it expands; drought persists in Oklahoma and Kansas http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for September (will be published on Friday, August 29) http://ow.ly/q3yAx
Mississippi Gopher Frog
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Alliant Energy under mandate to develop fish passage on Wisconsin River at Prairie du Sac dam; Asian carp raising issues http://ow.ly/ALZ3u
  • Judge upholds FWS designation of 6,477 acres of private Mississippi and Louisiana land as frog's critical habitat http://ow.ly/AHnG5
  • Researchers find about half as many mussels as in the past during August 2014 Iowa River survey http://ow.ly/AOK6w
  • Vanishing  greater sage grouse ignites debate over endangered species rules http://ow.ly/AGjOS
  • Environmental groups call for federal protection for monarch butterfly, at risk from rise of genetically modified crops http://ow.ly/ALQYM
  • Illinois expands its state wildlife code to protect black bears, gray wolves and cougars http://ow.ly/ALRh2
In the Cities -
Concept drawing of Tulsa’s new gathering place
  • Chlorination of ammonia-laden Des Moines and Raccoon rivers' waters may have contributed to trihalomethanes in Ankeny, Iowa drinking water http://ow.ly/AJnDc
  • Groundbreaking planned for "A Gathering Place of Tulsa," a "world class" 100-acre waterfront park along Arkansas River http://ow.ly/AM4rd
  • Old coal-mining towns in Tennessee are taking sometimes desperate measures to improve their economies http://ow.ly/AOxtU
In the States-
  • Iowa farm groups launch initiative to accelerate pace and scale of water-quality improvements across state http://ow.ly/AJgY2
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requests comments on Tiered Aquatic Life Uses addition being considered for state water quality standards http://ow.ly/AGD0Q
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • "Losing Ground" - this is what Coastal Louisiana stands to lose in the next 50 years
    Coastal Louisiana Land Loss Analysis (source: propublica.org)
    http://ow.ly/AR0mA
  • River Diversions And The Fate Of Louisiana's Coast http://ow.ly/AJgDL
  • Water Institute of the Gulf-focused primarily on Louisiana coastal research-looks to expand scope beyond state borders http://ow.ly/AJiKn
  • EPA awards $485,000 to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for testing water quality along state’s Gulf Coast http://ow.ly/AOws5
Resource Development -
  • Environmental Protection Agency sends final Renewable Fuel Standard to the Office of Management and Budget, triggering a broader review of proposed cut http://ow.ly/AGjyo
  • Arkansas emergency officials' records: Up to 33 Bakken oil trains pass through Arkansas weekly http://ow.ly/AGBvK
  • New York Times: Grain piles up, waiting for a ride, as trains move bumper crop of North Dakota oil http://ow.ly/AJbcN
Federal Budget -
  • Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office raises its projection for this fiscal year's federal deficit to $506 billion http://ow.ly/AMfYS
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Free webinar series (September 4 and 11): Tips to engage non-operator landowners in natural resource conservation http://ow.ly/ALRSd
  • Webinar: Is a Water Quality Trading Program Right for Your Facility? September 11, 1-2 PM ET ow.ly/AMlx6
  • U.S. Geological Survey announces Sept. 17-18 Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science meeting http://ow.ly/AR187
  • International Water Conference; November 16-20, San Antonio, Texas http://ow.ly/AR1Ce
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's August 28 Watershed News http://ow.ly/AR0bk
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, No. 254, August 25 - "Search for the Healthy City" http://ow.ly/AHrhY
  • Green Lands Blue Waters Update, highlighting the advancement of Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land ow.ly/AMhjA
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's August 27 TUWaterWays e-newsletter http://ow.ly/AOxOe
Other news-
  • Memo to West Virginia's leaders: Not all industry hates EPA http://ow.ly/ARj68
  • Obama hits the gas on regulatory initiatives, including EPA climate and water rules http://ow.ly/AGlCm
Politics and People-
  • New York Times’ Upshot model now increases Republicans’ odds of winning control of
    Click to enlarge
    U.S. Senate to 64 percent http://ow.ly/AJrcA
  • Scott Walker - Mary Burke, Wisconsin Governor's race outcome could shape U.S. political scene for years to come http://ow.ly/AM8ax
  • Command of Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division transfering from Peter DeLuca to Michael Wehr effective August 29 http://ow.ly/AJpV2
  • Following days of outcome uncertainty, Republican nominee to represent Wisconsin’s 6th District is state Sen. Glenn Grothman http://ow.ly/AGkht
  • Incumbent Rep. Scott DesJarlais officially wins GOP Tennessee 4th District primary, beating state Sen. Jim Tracy by 38 votes http://ow.ly/AHg8k
  • Former Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell (R) wins Okla. GOP primary runoff; expected to succeed Senate nominee James Lankford in the House http://ow.ly/ALNV9
  • 7Rivers Alliance (Upper Mississippi Valley) announces hiring of Lisa Herr as its new executive director http://ow.ly/AM2Wm
  • House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson announces new House Agriculture Committee Minority staff http://ow.ly/AHp4Q
  • There aren’t many Plains States' competitive political races, but here are five to watch in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas http://ow.ly/AGkxj
  • The top five "races to watch" in the Midwest are in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin http://ow.ly/AGwZ2
Your Moment of Zen -
In north Omaha, Nebraska, art briefly brings condemned homes to life - public art created by Watie White 
and placed in the windows of condemned houses tell the stories of those who lived there. 
Photo credit: Watie White.




Thursday, August 28, 2014

What We Learned This Week - "And It Was Just Right"

A draft U.N. report predicts “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts" from the continued release of climate changing gases, using the word "risk" 351 times in just 127 pages.  The Mississippi River Basin is ranked among world's top ten "priority basins for remediation" because it is so highly fragmented and has poor water quality.  A new report recommends collaborative strategies to reduce Mississippi River Basin nutrient pollution.   The Obama Administration is ramping up its output of new regulatory initiatives, including EPA climate and water rules.  Farm groups are painting the map red in a messaging effort designed to block the EPA from finalizing one of those water rules.  A Congressional committee is also posting water maps, and its members criticizing the EPA in the process.  Indiana University researchers believe that "Goldilocks plant growth" may be the key to sustaining resilient river deltas.  U.S. corn and soybean crops will probably break production records this year, reflecting favorable growing season weather; resulting in a sharp decline in corn prices, leading to pain for a hitherto robust Corn Belt economy. The excess grain is backing up on farms and silos, awaiting empty trains - trains mostly being used to carry a "bumper crop" of North Dakota crude oil. Up to 33 of those Bakken-oil-loaded trains pass through Arkansas weekly. Grain-filled barges travelling down the Missouri River might help alleviate the transportation bottleneck, but infrastructure spending, and water allocation changes may be needed first.  Some of the excess corn might be used in a new "weed blaster" being tested on Minnesota farm fields.   Last, and actually least, the Republican odds of taking control of the U.S. Senate are improving, as the Mississippi River states of Iowa, Kentucky and Arkansas become possible "wins."

Monday, August 25, 2014

Report Suggests Collaborative Strategies to Reduce Mississippi River Basin Nutrient Pollution

Photo credit: U.S. Water Alliance
A U.S. Water Alliance report released last Friday highlights the collaborative strategies that might be undertaken by various Mississippi River Basin stakeholders to reduce nutrient pollution. The 28-page report, "Coming Together to Protect Mississippi River Watersheds: Agriculture and Water Sector Collaboration for Nutrient Progress," is the outcome of a year-long series of conversations among River Basin agriculture, wastewater and drinking water leaders, with the participation of environmental, academic and scientific, business, local, state and Federal agency representatives. It recommends that nutrient loading to the waters of the Basin be reduced by expanding effective watershed-based cooperative leadership and decision-making; developing and implementing market nutrient-reduction mechanisms; improving decision- and market-supporting data, monitoring and modeling; and developing "Watershed Protection Utilities" (institutions focused on cost-effective nutrient-reduction results). The report focuses on nutrient pollution that this summer contributed to a Gulf of Mexico "dead" or hypoxic zone measuring 5,052 square miles, impacting an aquatic ecosystem that supports valuable commercial and recreational Gulf fisheries.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Ohio lays out plan to assist cities with testing and treating drinking water, help farmers to prevent algae growth http://ow.ly/AmYd8
  • Editorial: Timely attack by Ohio legislators on the state's toxic algal blooms will translate into votes http://ow.ly/AtB5a
  • Farm fertilizers contaminate watershed that supplies Columbus, Ohio's drinking water http://ow.ly/AtD8k
  • Lake Erie algal bloom crisis is putting pressure on U.S. farm states to tackle agricultural pollution problems http://ow.ly/AtE3v
  • Op-ed: Clean water is worth an Iowa special legislative session http://ow.ly/AtOe7
  • Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.): proposed EPA waters of the U.S.  rule "is wrong for Missouri and wrong for America” http://ow.ly/AtCuc
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeks public comments on proposed 4,800 hog confined feed units in Blue Earth County http://ow.ly/Ar5Qm
  • Draft water pollution report for Pomme de Terre River watershed in west-central Minnesota open for public comment http://ow.ly/Ar7PP
  • Wisconsin DNR fines farm owner less than $500 for manure spill extending months (Little Eau Pleine River basin) http://ow.ly/AtELM
  • U.S. EPA's response to the Duke Energy oil spill on Ohio River http://ow.ly/Awq2u
  • Crews continue to remove oil, contaminated water from Ohio River near Cincinnati following Duke Energy plant spill http://ow.ly/AzZ8x
  • Coast Guard proposes increase in liability limits for oil spill damage under 1990 Oil Pollution Act to keep pace with inflation http://ow.ly/AuPv2
  • MN Dept of Ag certifies farms in Stearns County SWCD under state Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program http://ow.ly/AxP8O
  • Federal judge: Army Corps can ignore mountaintop removal-public health link studies when approving new Clean Water Act mining permits http://ow.ly/Azham
  • American Indian Tribe environmental director says public left "in the absolute dark" re: massive North Dakota brine spill http://ow.ly/Azid4
  • Richland Creek Watershed Alliance fears 8,500-gallon fuel spill into basin wasn't contained; threatens suit (Tennessee) http://ow.ly/AzjRQ
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Army Corps: Higher-capacity ports, expanded locks and dams, other infrastructure improvements needed in Mississippi River Basin http://ow.ly/AwSld
  • Plaquemines Parish's $50 million, 7.8-mile long, forested ridge project along Mississippi River to be bid next month http://ow.ly/Azkj2
  • EPA finalizes long-delayed cooling water intake rule to protect fish, larvae, other species from entrainment, impingement; story: http://ow.ly/AmXmK and rule: http://ow.ly/AmXdF
  • On the books since 1988, the nearly $3 billion Ohio River Olmsted Locks and Dams project is now scheduled to be completed in 2020 http://ow.ly/Atxef
Agriculture -
  • In case with national implications, the American Farm Bureau Federation files amicus brief in closely-watched appeal of landmark U.S. EPA-led Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan http://ow.ly/AAziZ
  • Conservationists use GPS tracking to gain a better understanding of how cattle move across 2400-acre Minnesota prairie http://ow.ly/Az4KJ
  • Cornell University software developed to help farmers simultaneously save money and mitigate environmental impacts from excessive nitrogen http://ow.ly/AwSUl
  • New website to focus attention on "the critical role of healthy soils in vibrant natural resources
    systems" http://ow.ly/AmYAL
  • 2012 census of U.S. agriculture signals a small but consistent pattern of growth in agribusiness among Latinos http://ow.ly/Arbtf
  • Farm groups claim USEPA improperly released personal information of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) http://ow.ly/AtAs6
  • List of Regional Conservation Partnership Program pre-proposal projects asked to submit full proposals by Oct. 2 to USDA-NRCS; PDF file: http://ow.ly/AuXhm - 19 from Mississippi River Basin
  • Monsanto expects to begin selling herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, paired with a new and stronger weedkiller, in 2016 http://ow.ly/Az0B4
Climate and Weather -
  • US weekly drought update: scattered pockets of both drought deepening and relief evident across Mississippi River Basin http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • Climate change reflected in altered Missouri River flow: Montana and Wyoming water shortages and Dakotas flooding http://ow.ly/AraoF
  • Louisville, Kentucky, the fastest-warming city in the U.S., reaches for the brakes http://ow.ly/AtJ6P
  • After a wet start to the 2014 growing season, northern and central Illinois has seen a significant drop in rainfall http://ow.ly/Awy1U (A larger regional map also shows drier conditions in parts of Iowa, Indiana and Ohio over the past 30 days http://ow.ly/Awydb)
  • Warmer oceans are likely playing a part in changing land temperatures, including the cool Midwest 2014 summer http://ow.ly/AwPwu
Arctic grayling
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Illinois company is the latest of a growing number of firms to test various Asian carp marketing opportunities http://ow.ly/Arezl
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Upper Missouri River population of Arctic grayling does not warrant Endangered Species Act protection http://ow.ly/AwyJt and http://ow.ly/AwQWy
  • New study: Midwest species to experience risks from combined exposure to both climate and land use change; story: http://ow.ly/AwHAH; study abstract: http://ow.ly/AwHEd
In the States-
  • Louisiana is expected to see a $1.2 billion dollar budget shortfall next year http://ow.ly/ArglE
  • Iowa environmental protection leaders unanimously approve rules to guide regulation of state livestock facilities http://ow.ly/AwMn8 (see two related stories, below)
  • Iowa environmental groups wanted much tougher Iowa livestock-water quality rules http://ow.ly/AwN4a
  • Iowa advocacy group files complaint alleging conflict of interest in state's approval of water pollution rule http://ow.ly/AxQTa
  • Missouri activists fight American Legislative Exchange Council over state's new “Right to Farm” constitutional amendment http://ow.ly/AwNXE
  • West Virginia governor slow to appoint members to new commission to help improve state’s public drinking water protections http://ow.ly/Azj6R
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Council tasked with spending fines linked to 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill puts out call for ecosystem restoration projects http://ow.ly/AAy9L
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy releases new report on financing comprehensive coastal restoration and protection http://ow.ly/Axexr
  • NOAA analysis: Coastal development taking its toll on U.S. wetlands, forests; article: http://ow.ly/AtA6c and NOAA release: http://ow.ly/Au3LH
Forestry -
  • Minnesota’s timber industry worried over implications of possible northern long-eared bat endangered species designation http://ow.ly/AtMAF
Resource Development -
  • Ties between Center for Sustainable Shale Development, oil and gas companies highlight differing views among environmental groups http://ow.ly/AtDD0
  • Fighting to keep the oil boom out of vistas seen from little-known, North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park http://ow.ly/AtN8I
  • Testimony ends in Kanawha State Forest-area surface mine review (West Virginia) http://ow.ly/AziDY
Federal Budget -
  • House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI): Republicans won’t shut down government over a September budget showdown http://ow.ly/AyYRt
  • USDA: Funding for the Vegetation and Watershed Management Program has been cut 22 percent since 2001; Wildlife and fisheries habitat management by 17 percent http://ow.ly/AxwVH
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • August 26 public meeting to be held re: Hay and Wells creeks' bacteria-tainted water polluting Lake Pepin (Mississippi River) http://ow.ly/AtNr4
  • State Level Nutrient Reduction Strategies Webinar-Minnesota Watersheds Nutrient Planning Portal; August 27, 10 AM CDT http://ow.ly/Awrw1
  • Webinar: “Innovative Approaches to Financing and Funding Stormwater and Green Infrastructure Investments;” 1 PM EDT, August 27 http://ow.ly/AtBkH
  • The Depths of Environmental Arts, Culture and Justice; Biennial Conference, June 23- 27, 2015; University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho http://ow.ly/Atyvn (call for papers open)
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • Three job openings (water quality): Natural Resource Social Science Lab; Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana http://ow.ly/AtyYx
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) now accepting proposals for watershed sampling grants in Upper Mississippi and Minnesota river basins http://ow.ly/AwD6h
  • Editorial: Minnesota Public Safety Department sides with public information advocates on oil train information release http://ow.ly/AwTFS
  • Interactive map of the week: Where people who lived in each state in 2012 were born http://ow.ly/AxgMM
Politics and People-
  • Dispute erupts over hiring Executive Director for Minnesota's $100 million annual Legacy Amendment spending for the outdoors http://ow.ly/AxPra
  • State Sen. Chris McDaniel asks Mississippi court to declare him the winner of June 24 Republican runoff for Senate seat http://ow.ly/AmRim
  • Montana Democratic Party nominates state Rep. Amanda Curtis to replace retiring Sen. John Walsh on November U.S. Senate ballot http://ow.ly/Ar5m1
  • Many Republicans privately acknowledge climate change realities, but see little political benefit to speaking out http://ow.ly/AtIpW
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) touts his work for Kentucky farmers but tends to skip Senate Agriculture Committee hearings unrelated to Kentucky http://ow.ly/AwzrO
  • The Hill lists 65 people who may run for U.S. President in 2016 http://ow.ly/AwwLx
Your Moment of Zen - 
International Space Station crew members photographed this nighttime image of the Gulf of Mexico coastline from 
some 225 miles above the Earth (photo credit: NASA)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What We Learned This Week - "So Bigger I Got"

People are calling upon Ohio and Iowa state legislators to address water pollution in their respective states. A U.S. House Representative thinks that a proposed national water quality rule is "wrong for Missouri."   An Iowa advocacy group filed a complaint in federal district court alleging that the state's August 19 approval of new Clean Water Act rules was illegal.  By its own estimate, the Wisconsin DNR fined the owners of a dairy farm that spilled manure into a nearby wetland for months on end about $0.00077 per gallon of manure.  At the other end of the expense spectrum, first authorized in 1988, the nearly $3 billion Ohio River Olmsted Locks and Dams project is now on track to be completed in 2020. That's spending money at the rate of just over a quarter of a million dollars a day.  Meanwhile, the state of Louisiana will operate in the red next year; losing money at a nearly $3.3 million per day clip.  The Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi Valley Division believes that higher-capacity ports, expanded locks and dams and other infrastructure improvements are needed in the Mississippi River Basin.  The U.S. EPA released its long-anticipated cooling water intake rule to protect fish and other aquatic organisms, drawing the ire of both environmental groups and Congressional Republicans.  Many of those Republicans will acknowledge the realities of climate change in private, but see little political benefit to recognizing them publicly.  Some green groups want to be connected with the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, and others don't. From 1996 to 2011 the Gulf Coast region lost 996 square miles of wetlands due to land subsidence, erosion, storms, sea level rise and other factors.  And last but not least, according to a New York Times correction, "bald eagles and ospreys . . . eat fish, and their poop is white; they do not eat berries and excrete purple feces."  Now you know.

Friday, August 15, 2014

What We Learned This Week - "I'll Be Back"

Harmful algal blooms are becoming more common, and have impacted all 50 U.S. states.  Some people in three of those states (TexasOklahoma, and  Nebraska) don't particularly like the Obama Administration's proposed "Waters of the United States" rule.  The Army Corps of Engineers completed its emergency dredging operations in the Upper Mississippi River, opening the River to barge traffic. The Treasury Department set the ground rules for how Gulf Coast states can spend the civil fines levied as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. Even though it’s a serious long shot, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski plans one last effort to push an omnibus spending bill once Congress returns from its recess.  Missouri is hosting the longest non-stop canoe and kayak race in the world this week. Some Iowa farmers are buying new equipment and adopting new practices to cope with increasingly-volatile weather patterns. It's not a great idea to let your children grow up to be small-scale farmers.  The Arnold Schwarzenegger of weeds refuses to die and is headed toward the Midwest. A Government Accountability Office report found fault with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA's) analyses of the costs and benefits of its regulations.  Journalism and science advocacy groups believe that the U.S. EPA is blocking its science advisers from speaking freely.  Adults in large U.S. cities - such as the Mississippi River Basin cities of St. Louis, Louisville, Indianapolis, Memphis, Cincinnati and New Orleans - tend toward the liberal side of the political spectrum, even when they’re within conservative states. Residents in two blue-leaning Mississippi River states voted in Tuesday primary elections (here are the results: Wisconsin and Minnesota).  Eight of the ten Mississippi River states are among the 24 in the U.S. that have never had a female governor. And last but not least, Americans' evaluation of Congress continues to be dismally low.

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Environmental groups expand scope of lawsuit against USEPA re: its approval of new Kentucky water quality standards http://ow.ly/AjFEv
  • USEPA pursuing criminal investigation into a chemical spill at a Missouri poultry-processing plant in May http://ow.ly/AjKiD
  • “Common Sense Nebraska” coalition protests Obama Administration's proposed rule clarifying Clean Water Act jurisdiction http://ow.ly/A6Gg0
  • People line up in Oklahoma on both sides of "Waters of the U.S." proposed rule debate http://ow.ly/AbVU9
  • Texas to USEPA: if you promulgate Waters of the United States rule we will have "no choice but to challenge the rule in federal court" article: http://ow.ly/Ah8uW (letter: http://ow.ly/Ah8w9)
  • Scientific American: harmful algal blooms are becoming more common, affect all 50 states, and are fed by agriculture http://ow.ly/AbGD7
  • Blue-green algae that hit Toledo often found in Wisconsin lakes http://ow.ly/AbSoy; prompted WI DNR warning earlier this summer http://ow.ly/AbSx6
  • University of Kentucky media release: "Algal Blooms Pose Danger to Livestock" http://ow.ly/AcZVH
  • USGS finds insecticide in Iowa waters; linked to bee declines in other studies http://ow.ly/AeFKh (related USGS July news release here: http://ow.ly/zABOJ)
  • 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denies coal mining company request to reconsider Clean Water Act permit shield ruling http://ow.ly/Ah4L9
  • 580 gallons of oil spill into Mississippi River Tuesday after two ships and barge collide at port near New Orleans http://ow.ly/AjJPK
  • Arkansas Department of Health warns of mercury in Lake Ouachita fish http://ow.ly/AjV2L
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Barge shipping traffic resumes as Upper Mississippi River emergency dredging by Army Corps ends http://ow.ly/AcMLW; dredging details: http://ow.ly/AeuJR
  • Under terms of a Plaquemines Parish-Army Corps agreement, lower Mississippi River dredge materials can be used for marsh creation http://ow.ly/AcN72
  • Groundbreaking held for $260 million hydroelectric plant at Des Moines River dam near Knoxville, Iowa ow.ly/AjIQu (project web site: http://ow.ly/Aesdh)
  • Carnegie Energy and Climate Program report: Underestimating Oil and Water Challenges in the Northern Great Plains http://ow.ly/AhaVV
  • Johnson County, Iowa officials call for new Coralville Lake Army Corps' management study in wake of another summer of Iowa River flooding http://ow.ly/AjLkG
  • Army Corps of Engineers agrees to extend comment period for planned Ohio River fracking waste off-loading barge facility http://ow.ly/AjLHb
  • North Dakota becomes sixth state whose residents have joined in a lawsuit against Army Corps of Engineers over Missouri River flood damage http://ow.ly/Ami5I
Agriculture -
  • Minnesota potato fields offer look at how the nation's largest grower is rethinking the way it uses
    pesticides http://ow.ly/AeDT7
  • NY Times: The dirty secret of the food movement is that the much-celebrated small-scale farmer isn't making a living http://ow.ly/Af76o
  • Corn-fed ethanol plant in south-central Nebraska, idle since 2012, reopens thanks to improved market http://ow.ly/A6FtT
  • Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) thinks we've failed at bridging the gap between production agriculture and consumption http://ow.ly/AenbU
  • It's Iowa State Fair week, which means butter sculptures galore! http://ow.ly/Ah6vG http://ow.ly/Ah6z9 http://ow.ly/Ah6Cy (oh . . . and politicians http://ow.ly/Am43Z)
  • Farmers await government decisions on new herbicide version and on genetically modified crops designed to resist it http://ow.ly/AhLGd
  • Farmland values in Iowa and other parts of the Corn Belt have likely plateaued http://ow.ly/Am3aw
Climate and Weather -
Regional Drought Update: Midwest
(click to enlarge)
  • US drought update: new areas of dryness and moderate drought in western Kentucky and northwestern Tennessee; new areas of dryness in central Indiana; Plains drought improved significantly ow.ly/AjMnD
  • Dry summer conditions in many parts of Kentucky diminish crop production for some farmers after bumper 2013 yields http://ow.ly/AjLVc
  • NPR: Extreme weather patterns in Iowa are making it more difficult to produce corn - farmers learning to adapt http://ow.ly/AjNUJ
  • Climate change means that North Dakota conditions are now better for raising corn than wheat; a big benefit for farmers http://ow.ly/AjVrY
  • NOAA National Climatic Data Center graph depicting precipitation required to end current drought in one month http://ow.ly/AjI8u
  • What is the hottest temperature you've seen this summer? - Over 1,000 farmer respond (map) http://ow.ly/Ah2zI
  • Regional Guides Developed for Teaching the 2014 National Climate Assessment http://ow.ly/Am1FS
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Herbicide-resistant Palmer amaranth (or "carelessweed") has devastated Southern cotton farms and is poised to wreak havoc in the Midwest http://ow.ly/Ael4d
In the Cities -
  • Tulsa's Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force proposes endowment for Arkansas River dams' maintenance http://ow.ly/AhaFm
  • Springfield, Illinois project will capture rainwater runoff and use it elsewhere http://ow.ly/AeEGg
In the States-
  • Ohio farm and environmental groups say new state law that will certify fertilizer use doesn’t go far or fast enough http://ow.ly/AjVTW
  • Montana completes rulemaking for new nitrogen and phosphorus water quality standards http://ow.ly/Am2Ft
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Gulf coastal oyster harvest has nose-dived since 2010 BP spill http://ow.ly/AeSho
  • Treasury Dept to publish rule (August 15) on how Gulf Coast states can spend civil fines from 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill (pre-publication text: http://ow.ly/AjF0E)
Resource Development -
  • Stanford University research: Energy companies fracking for oil and gas at far shallower depths than widely believed http://ow.ly/AjGP6
  • West Virginia Mine Board holds first public hearing focused on mine located near Kanawha State Forest http://ow.ly/AeF8f
Federal Budget -
  • Senate Appropriations Chair plans one last effort to push an omnibus spending bill once Congress returns from recess http://ow.ly/AeLLb
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Missouri 340 endurance kayakers and canoeists paddle down Missouri River across the state
    Missouri 340 event paddlers on Missouri River
    http://ow.ly/AjJEE
  • USDA webinar: Conservation Compliance for Specialty Crop Producers; August 19, 2 PM EDT http://ow.ly/Am1Yl
  • Basin Alliance for the Lower Mississippi in Minnesota ("BALMM") to meet August 20 in Oronoco http://ow.ly/A7hwH
  • Wetland Mapping Consortium webinar: Surface Waters and Wetlands Inventory: A More Comprehensive Dataset of the Nation’s Water Resources August 20, 3 PM EDT http://ow.ly/AjDLV
  • U.S. EPA informational webinar: recent amendments to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund; August 21 from 2-4 p.m. EDT http://ow.ly/AjGto
  • Details on Army Corps listening sessions on Water Resources Reform and Development Act implementation http://ow.ly/Ac9x2 (three yet to be held: August 27, September 10 and 24)
  • Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's 2014 Clean Water Summit; September 11; Chaska, MN http://ow.ly/Am1gt
  • Mississippi Minute Film Festival solicits 60-second videos of Twin Cities' Mississippi River for October 20 event http://ow.ly/AhbqI
  • 2014 Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference will be held in Duluth, Minnesota on October 20-22 http://ow.ly/AbCDe
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's August 8, Basin Alliance for the Lower Mississippi in Minnesota "Currents" http://ow.ly/A7h0e
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands-Blue Waters Update, highlighting Mississippi River Basin continuous living cover on agricultural land http://ow.ly/AbHUH
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's August 12 TUWaterWays e-newsletter http://ow.ly/Af0ve
  • Pennsylvania Environmental Council's August 2014 "Forum" e-newsletter http://ow.ly/AjYwt
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council Watershed News for August 14 http://ow.ly/Am2vK
Other news-
  • Government Accountability Office report finds fault with EPA’s analyses of the costs and benefits of its regulations http://ow.ly/Aemkf (related article: http://ow.ly/AemrJ)
  • Job: WV DEP seeks Environmental Resources Specialist to help coordinate stream and wetland restoration/mitigation http://ow.ly/AetiJ
  • U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is using August recess to tour Wisconsin’s "freshwater coasts" http://ow.ly/Aeu7d
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is using August recess to discuss importance of the Mississippi River and Obama administration's "executive overreach" http://ow.ly/AjKW0
  • Bike-trail project to connect Minnesota and Wisconsin http://ow.ly/Aev9a
  • Water pays: Fishing license sales set another record in North Dakota following wet year http://ow.ly/Aevzc
Politics and People-
  • Journalism, scientific advocacy groups: USEPA is blocking its science advisers from speaking freely to the public, press http://ow.ly/Ah3PZ
  • Rep. Scott DesJarlais now up by 37 votes in Tennessee U.S. House GOP primary, but vote likely won't be decided until sometime next week http://ow.ly/AhKtK
  • Wisconsin’s 6th District GOP U.S. House primary now "too close to call" http://ow.ly/AjCmu
  • Tom Emmer decisively wins GOP primary for Minnesota’s open 6th District; likely to succeed retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann http://ow.ly/Ah7dy
  • Complete Wisconsin http://ow.ly/AhIXR and Minnesota http://ow.ly/AhJ3r  primary election results from Tuesday
  • Large U.S. cities tend toward the liberal side of political spectrum, even when they’re within conservative states http://ow.ly/AcNEZ
  • New, free website includes voting history, campaign finance data, other contact information for members of Congress, staff http://ow.ly/AhlvU
  • Americans' dismal evaluations of Congress continue, with 13% approving and 83% disapproving in an August Gallup poll http://ow.ly/AhHd4
Your Moment of Zen -
A herd of bison grazes in Lamar Valley in Yellowstone national park, Wyoming. Photograph: Jim Urquhart/Reuters