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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Army Corps to Host Four Listening Sessions on Its Implementation of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act

Maxwell Locks and Dam on the Monongahela River
On Wednesday, August 13, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host a call-in and on-line listening session regarding its implementation of the recently-passed Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). Signed into law on June 10, 2014, WRRDA reauthorized and amended the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), and authorizes flood control, navigation, and environmental projects and studies by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The August 13 session (the first of four planned) will address Deauthorizations and Backlog Prevention, and Project Development and Delivery. Here are the detailed agendas for the four listening sessions, which will each cover different WRRDA implementation topics. As detailed in a related July 29, Federal Register notice, the Army Corps intends to provide an opportunity for public comment on the matter during each of the listening sessions, and is also providing an opportunity to submit written comments outside of the sessions. Call-in and Internet log-in information for Wednesday’s session, and each of the subsequent sessions (on August 27, and September 10 and 24), can be found here.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

New USDA Rule and Policy Will Change Conservation Dynamics
A recently-published U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) interim rule and a new USDA policy issued this week change several ground rules for certain USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) conservation programs. The agency published what it is calling a "minor" interim rule (along with a request for public comment on the rule) in the August 1 edition of the Federal Register. The interim rule became effective on that date, making nondiscretionary changes to several NRCS program regulations that required adjustments in light of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (commonly known as the "farm bill") or otherwise required to implement NRCS administrative "streamlining improvements and clarifications." those changes include "addressing the required review of operating procedures of the State Technical Committee, adding reference of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act program regulations, adding reference of the RCPP to, and expanding the definition of, “acreage owned by Indian Tribes” under the Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP), revising and simplifying the Regional Equity provision, and adjusting the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program to correspond with changes to payment provisions under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)." Additionally, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack delegated to NRCS the agency's administrative responsibility to implement the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP), as well as several internal NRCS administrative changes. Interested persons may submit comments on the interim rule on or before September 30, 2014. The regulation can be accessed and comments submitted by using this link.

Under the new, August 6, FSA policy, highly erodible acreage will not be eligible for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) early termination, otherwise available for certain CRP contracts during the upcoming 2015 fiscal year (if those contracts have been in effect for at least five years). The policy also states that land within an average of 120 feet of a perennial stream or body of water will also be ineligible to opt out early, as will land enrolled in FSA's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • NOAA reports an average but large Gulf of Mexico hypoxic ("dead") zone for July 27-August
    (click to enlarge)
    2 http://ow.ly/zXOLr
  • Attorneys general from 15 farm, ranching states send letter to USEPA objecting to proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule http://ow.ly/A0QvL
  • Farm Bureau launches animated video targeting Obama Administration's proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule http://ow.ly/A0QHs
  • Fifteen state attorneys general ask EPA Administrator to withdraw interpretive rule identifying 56 conservation practices exempt from Clean Water Act regulations http://ow.ly/A6oqD
  • Commission overseeing Iowa water quality regulations plans to consider adoption of new controversial rule next month http://ow.ly/zUPWk
  • Environmental Working Group study: Iowa lost 15 million tons of soil via erosion into waterways http://ow.ly/zY0k9
  • Smallmouth bass, white suckers captured in Ohio, Delaware, Susquehanna rivers in Pennsylvania found to be intersex; possible link with pollution; Study: http://ow.ly/zXU8J; news report: http://ow.ly/zXU0V
  • Environmental Health Perspectives: Crisis and emergency risk communication: Lessons from the Elk River (WV) spill http://ow.ly/zUPgQ
  • Proposed EPA selenium Clean Water Act guidelines generate mining interest positive feedback, environmental opposition http://ow.ly/zW0hp
  • Federal judge approves $27.8 million settlement from Tennessee Valley Authority to those harmed by 2008 coal ash spill http://ow.ly/A256E
  • Minnesota starts to think about re-using wastewater http://ow.ly/A3KCs
  • Fish kill reported on the Salt Fork River for the third straight year (Oklahoma) http://ow.ly/A6sOw
Harmful Algal Blooms
  • Mississippi River Collaborative media release: "From Toledo to the Gulf, Water Pollution Threats Increasing" http://ow.ly/zXWdY
  • MinnPost "Earth Journal" - Toledo's water pollution crisis shows "we're moving in the wrong direction" http://ow.ly/A4zA9
  • Green groups say Toledo water pollution highlights nationwide problems with agricultural runoff, water protection http://ow.ly/zXX51
  • Ohio Regulators Aim to Help Water Problem With Fertilizer Licenses http://ow.ly/A0QZq
  • Environmentalists and water officials say Des Moines, Iowa could easily find its water tainted as did Toledo, Ohio http://ow.ly/A3O80
  • Louisville Water Company: Ohio River flow puts Metro Louisville at lower risk of problems from algal blooms like those found in Toledo http://ow.ly/zY19p
  • "Toxic Algae, Drinking Water and Why Madison Won’t Be Toledo" http://ow.ly/zY41u
  • Harmful algal blooms have been reported in every US coastal state; their occurrence may be on the rise; NOAA background summary: http://ow.ly/zYcoD
  • Environmental Health Perspectives: New Tools for Detecting, Monitoring, and Preventing Harmful Algal Blooms http://ow.ly/zUT2r
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Groundbreaking Northwestern U.S. settlement may have implications nationwide for Army
    Corps pollutant releases from its dams http://ow.ly/zY21E
  • East Bank Levee Authority asks federal judge to find that new Louisiana law doesn't block wetland loss suit against energy companies http://ow.ly/A3NsV
  • Army Corps, Plaquemines Parish, La. sign agreement to build wetlands in West Bay http://ow.ly/A3MSQ
  • Army Corps of Engineers awards $65.8 million contract for construction of "critical" Plaquemines Parish, La. floodgate http://ow.ly/A6thy
  • Draft Army Corps' supplemental environmental assessment for repairs to Council Bend chute, Pottawattamie County, Iowa available for public review http://ow.ly/zY33l
  • Draft environmental assessment for modification of 73 Missouri River dike structures available for public review http://ow.ly/A6rzH
  • Mississippi River port district in Southwestern Illinois will more than double in size under terms of new state law http://ow.ly/zVFOQ
  • Three dredges have been employed to remove sediment, restore barge traffic, in the Upper Mississippi River http://ow.ly/zXZV7
  • Barges may sail down Mississippi by this weekend following massive Minnesota silt and sand deposit dredging effort http://ow.ly/A3QyY
  • Helping decision makers prioritize where to restore and protect wetlands is the purpose of a new Minnesota online tool http://ow.ly/A27KJ
  • U.S. Energy Information Administration releases new tool that maps flooding risks at energy infrastructure sites http://ow.ly/A4Ixu
Agriculture -
  • New USDA Conservation Partnership Program receives nearly 600 pre-proposals, with 60 coming from the Mississippi River Basin Critical Conservation Area http://ow.ly/zWbXw (Final proposals requested from about 230 applicants-due by October 2).
  • USDA Conservation Interim Rule Open For Comment Through September 30 http://ow.ly/A0ZGQ
  • USDA "makes progress" on 2014 Farm Bill implementation: Disaster Relief, Risk Management, Conservation Partnerships, Research Foundation http://ow.ly/A26I5
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) wants USDA "to hear directly from farmers about how conservation compliance requirements are burdening them” http://ow.ly/A3Q9L
  • USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory now lists 8,268 markets, an increase of 76 percent since 2008 http://ow.ly/zUSew - These Mississippi River Basin states exhibit the biggest increases in the numbers of farmers markets: Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Montana and Nebraska
  • USDA Environmental Impact Statement takes herbicide 2,4-D-resistant crops one step closer to deregulation http://ow.ly/A3DOI, even though they could increase problematic weed resistance for farmers http://ow.ly/A3QZD
  • 'Superweeds' resistant to herbicides emerge to challenge farmers, with giant ragweeds plaguing Minnesota http://ow.ly/zUSHg
  • Fifty Democratic members of Congress ask EPA, USDA not to approve new herbicide and related genetically engineered crops http://ow.ly/zUYbw
  • Percentage land value increases between 2013 and 14 are highest in Corn Belt states; figure: http://ow.ly/zV20n and report: http://ow.ly/zV23j
  • Farmers will soon be able to get advice about conservation at local elevators through program being piloted in Iowa http://ow.ly/zVIMi
  • Missouri voters approve "right to farm" amendment that may limit future environmental regulations aimed at agriculture sector http://ow.ly/A3Buw
Climate and Weather -
  • US drought update: impacts from short-term Midwest and Northern Plains dryness slow to emerge; effects of a multi-year drought persist in Southern Plains http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • Statewide average temperature for July was 70.3 degrees in Illinois, tying July 2009 record cool http://ow.ly/zV2ni
  • The new "normal?" - For the first time, more than half the world's population was born after 1985, which was the last year the Earth was cooler than average http://ow.ly/A3Sea
  • Colorado Climate Prediction: More heat waves, wildfires, drought (18 states receive water originating in Colorado) http://ow.ly/A3SXR
  • Pilot-Tribune Special Report: Climate change impacts Northwestern Iowa http://ow.ly/A3Vfz
  • NOAA lowers its forecast for the 2014 hurricane season, following the recent lead of other experts http://ow.ly/A6r2k
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Experimental underwater speakers designed to repel Asian carp deployed on Mississippi River near Genoa, Wisconsin http://ow.ly/A454G
  • Over 7,000 Asian carp removed from Illinois River during weekend at 9th Annual Redneck Fishing Tournament (Bath, IL) http://ow.ly/zY0GH
  • Invasive species observed in Green Lake (zebra mussel) and Games Lake (Eurasian watermilfoil), Kandiyohi County, Minnesota http://ow.ly/zW9wk
  • Ad campaign blames "activist lawyers" and "flawed science" for looming greater sage grouse endangered status listing http://ow.ly/zXMHl (also see this E&E article: http://ow.ly/zXNnP)
  • Researchers conduct first survey of Minnesota's native bees http://ow.ly/zYbDp
In the Cities -
  • The Cost of Stormwater: Why Beckley, WV Sanitary Board customers are charged an additional stormwater fee each month http://ow.ly/zUOXl
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • BP asks U.S. Supreme Court to throw out part of settlement of claims for damages from its 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill http://ow.ly/zVGjy
  • Gulf spill researcher: Bacteria degraded gaseous hydrocarbons (and maybe BTEX compounds) from BP oil spill, not PAHs http://ow.ly/A0Slj
Forestry -
  • U.S. Forest Service will award $1,875,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect 4,800 acres of prime developable Tennessee forest land http://ow.ly/A3E8x
Resource Development -
  • Up to 20,000 gallons of fracking-related hydrochloric acid spilled in alfalfa field near Hennessey, Oklahoma http://ow.ly/zV16M
Federal Budget -
  • Senate appropriators release draft $30.7 billion fiscal 2015 spending bill to fund Interior Department, EPA, Forest Service http://ow.ly/zUXGZ
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • "Six splashy ways to have fun at Second Saturday" at Coldwater Spring (Minneapolis) http://ow.ly/A0MQa (that's August 9)
  • Mississippi River Commission will conduct annual low-water inspection trip on Mississippi River August 15-22 http://ow.ly/zY2iE (four public meetings)
  • NWRI Clarke Prize Conference: Research and Innovations in Urban Water Sustainability;  November 7, Huntington Beach, CA http://ow.ly/A3CNs
  • Save the date: Conference on Continuous Living Cover farming; November 19-20, in Decatur, IL (details later here http://ow.ly/A6k01)
  • Fall Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee meetings announced http://ow.ly/A6nT3
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • U.S. Geological Survey announces "Climate Matters" semiannual newsletter; to see first issue, visit: http://ow.ly/zV0DI
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's August 5 TUWaterWays e-newsletter http://ow.ly/A0Xjy
  • America's Waterway August 2014 "River Currents" e-newsletter http://ow.ly/A266m
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for August 2014 http://ow.ly/A27aD
  • America's WETLAND Foundation July newsletter http://ow.ly/A6n81
Other news-
  • Female environmental champions around the world are routinely harassed and threatened for their work http://ow.ly/A4J8o
  • Farmland, grasslands and forest are all expected to be converted to urban use as US cities sprawl over the next 50 years http://ow.ly/A4lqw
  • Over 5000 yellow rubber duckies raced on Saturday in Brainerd Jaycees Lil' Rubber Duckie Race on Mississippi River http://ow.ly/zVHza
  • Minnesota's Great River Greening has land and water, community-based restoration volunteer positions open http://ow.ly/zXLKG
Politics and People-
  • Ken Kopocis to replace EPA's acting water chief Nancy Stoner, who will lead Pisces Foundation's new water program http://ow.ly/A6hSu; Lisa Feldt to replace Bob Perciasepe as EPA's acting deputy administrator
  • USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan Garcia is retiring after 37 years with USDA http://ow.ly/A6ixW
  • Pew Research: Congress continues its streak of passing few significant laws http://ow.ly/zVDbP
  • McDaniel challenges Mississippi's US Senate runoff vote results; Experts say that it is very unlikely to succeed http://ow.ly/zXKVR
  • Mississippi state Republican Party chairman: McDaniel should move his primary election challenge to courts http://ow.ly/A3Pti
  • Incumbent Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts takes 48 percent of the vote to win U.S. Senate primary election ow.ly/A0OLY
  • Roll Call says that Mississippi Basin Sens. Walsh (MT), Pryor (AR), Landrieu (LA), Udall (CO) and Franken (MN) are on top ten "vulnerable" list http://ow.ly/zXRgR
  • Sen. John Walsh (D) announced Thursday that he’s dropping out of the race for his Montana seat http://ow.ly/A6gqZ
  • Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS-1) wins narrow victory in hard-fought congressional race against challenger Alan LaPolice http://ow.ly/A11MC
  • Incumbent Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) has survived a primary scare from Weston Wamp http://ow.ly/A6g0c
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) easily wins Tennessee's Thursday Republican primary http://ow.ly/A6gdF
Your Moment of Zen -
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, as photographed on August 4 by the European spacecraft, Rosetta.
Rosetta entered into orbit around the comet on August 5, following a six billion kilometer, ten-year chase.