Friday, October 24, 2014

What We Learned This Week - "We're Not in Kansas Any More"

The U.S. Agriculture and Interior departments are partnering to measure farmland conservation impacts on water quality. The U.S. EPA approved most of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' proposed new and revised Water Quality Standards. The EPA's proposed clean water rule passed a crucial test, when it received the approval of the agency’s Science Advisory Board.  Republican senators and EPA sparred over the intent and scope of that rule. The North American drought of 1934 that epitomized that decade's "Dust Bowl" was the driest and most widespread of the last millennium.  In general, the drier the U.S. state, the higher its household water use, the driest states' populations are growing the quickest, and little relationship exists between water scarcity and price. In the "it's a small world" news category, some of the road salt running into Ohio streams this winter will have originated in Morocco.  This year is on pace to be hottest ever, after September global temperatures exceeded past marks.  The U.S. EPA found that there is little to no benefit to using neonicotinoid pesticides (linked to bee declines) to treat soybeans. Green infrastructure is better than gray in responding to the more frequent storms, sea-level rise, and other results of climate change.  The redbelly snake may not be found in Kansas much longer: having long drawn the ire of developers, the snake is to be taken off Kansas' threatened species list.  Also not in Kansas: the striking sunflower field image that Kansas Senator Pat Roberts used on every website page and in his press releases.  Scientists and voodoo practitioners partnered at New Orleans' Anba Dlo festival to address water challenges.  Anba Dlo translates in a Haitian dialect as "beneath the waters," which describes parts of New Orleans in the aftermath of 2005's Hurricane Katrina.  But it's no longer your mother's (pre-Katrina) New Orleans. It's also not the traditional, rural Iowa we once knew and loved.    President Obama took advantage of Illinois' first day of early voting, and cast his ballot in Chicago. However, many other Democratic voters are tuning out the U.S. midterms.  And last but not least, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, WEDNESDAY WAS INTERNATIONAL CAPSLOCK DAY (yes, it's been a slow news week).

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~

Midterm Elections
The nationwide midterm elections are just eleven days away, and for the political junkies among us (or simply the gluttons for
2014 U.S. Senate Elections
punishment), the National Journal's handy interactive map summarizes each of the midterm gubernatorial and congressional races by state.  It also includes links to candidate biographical, polling, financial and social media information.  Here, for example, are the electoral data for Iowa:

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
Proposed Federal Clean Water Act Regulations
  • EPA scientific review board backs underpinnings of Clean Water Act jurisdictional proposed rule; letter: http://ow.ly/DeJKR (story here: http://ow.ly/DeLec)
  • Republican senators and EPA spar over agency’s proposed Waters of the United States rule http://ow.ly/DgZLi
  • GOP Senate Agriculture Committee members ask Obama Administration to immediately withdraw agriculture Clean Water Act Interpretive Rule http://ow.ly/Dh0L2

Other Water Quality News

  • EPA Region 7 issues decision letter on Missouri’s proposed new and revised Water Quality Standards, approving most; release: http://ow.ly/DgT8h and letter: http://ow.ly/DgTst
  • Announced at Hypoxia Task Force meeting: Agriculture, Interior Departments partnering to measure conservation impacts on water quality http://ow.ly/D9KT7
  • Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance seeks partners to help in its nutrient runoff reduction efforts http://ow.ly/D9Mzj
  • Summit to address ways of keeping harmful algae blooms out of the Cincinnati water supply http://ow.ly/D20Mb
  • Report: phosphorus causing harmful algal blooms in Sauk River Chain of Lakes should be cut by up to 54 percent http://ow.ly/D24oG
  • EPA preliminarily determines that strontium should be regulated in drinking water http://ow.ly/D5t0s
  • University of Kentucky study: salamander populations lower, less diverse in streams impacted by mountaintop-removal coal mining http://ow.ly/DdGfK
  • USDA to provide over $352 million in loans and grants to upgrade rural water and wastewater systems nationwide http://ow.ly/DedmO
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • EPA invites communities to apply for technical assistance to implement smart growth development approaches, including flood resilience http://ow.ly/DgWo7
  • Brookings Institution: In Times of Drought: Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States http://ow.ly/D5NNQ
  • In general, the drier the U.S. state, the higher the household water use, and the driest states are now growing the quickest http://ow.ly/D1xMX
  • Iowa Flood Center expands sensor network in Iowa River watershed http://ow.ly/D9Lz2
  • Mississippi tries to renew water-rights battle with Memphis, Tennessee http://ow.ly/D5uIR; Supreme Court asks solicitor general to weigh in http://ow.ly/D5uZO
  • Lawsuit against Army Corps of Engineers for Missouri River flooding grows to six states; adds 230 new plaintiffs http://ow.ly/D9SSX
Agriculture -
  • Diverse coalition releases vision statement for cover crops and soil health http://ow.ly/CW14g
  • Report: Global agricultural productivity isn’t increasing fast enough to meet the growing
    demand in the coming decades http://ow.ly/CUdMR
  • U.S. farmers are cutting back on spreading fertilizer this autumn in response to a drop in crop prices http://ow.ly/CUdoL
  • Well-timed drought relief for farmers could benefit corn and wheat growers in Kansas, Colorado, and Iowa http://ow.ly/D9qf9
  • Land Sale of the Week: $10,900/acre for 157-acre southeastern Iowa corn field http://ow.ly/D1A8k
  • US EPA finds little to no benefit to using neonicotinoid pesticides (linked to bee declines) to keep soybeans free of insects http://ow.ly/D1ISK
  • Agricultural companies race to diversify beyond synthetic chemical pesticides, amid growing regulatory, consumer scrutiny http://ow.ly/D9Blf
  • Farmer, environmental coalition files lawsuit seeking to overturn USEPA approval granted for Dow herbicide http://ow.ly/DdIhs
  • To ease transportation crunch, Missouri to allow 10% heavier than normal truckloads of grains on non-Interstate highways for next 60 days http://ow.ly/Dh1Gf
Climate and Weather -
  • Report: green infrastructure is better response to more frequent storms, sea-level rise, other
    National drought update
    (click to enlarge)
    effects of climate change http://ow.ly/D9yZv
  • USDA launches web site to provide climate information to stakeholders http://ow.ly/DdDQj
  • NOAA: world on course for 2014 to be hottest year ever, after September temperatures were highest ever recorded http://ow.ly/D5l2s
  • US weekly drought update: areas of north, central Minnesota abnormally dry; other Midwest areas status quo; slight changes in Plains http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • NASA: North American drought of 1934 was the driest and most widespread of the last millennium http://ow.ly/CVQtv
Redbelly snake
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Two years after the last Asian carp removal effort, it appears the carp may be eradicated from Hennepin and Hopper Lakes http://ow.ly/DgSaz
  • Redbelly snake - an animal that has drawn the ire of developers - will be taken off Kansas' threatened species list http://ow.ly/CW02z
  • Emerald ash borer may be moving on to other tree species beside ash http://ow.ly/DdL98
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration begins $20 million initiative to bring massive numbers of wild pigs under control (a problem in the South and Midwest) http://ow.ly/Dea5A
In the Cities -
  • New Orleans is starting to find its footing almost a decade after Hurricane Katrina, but it's a different identity http://ow.ly/D5rXP
  • City of Wichita to hold public forum on water plan to upgrade system; protect against a severe drought http://ow.ly/D9S54 (Arkansas River)
In the States-
  • Pennsylvania lawmakers approve bill to remove regulatory requirement for forest buffer between development, streams http://ow.ly/CVZw0
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Gulf Restoration Network files lawsuit over project receiving restoration funding related to 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill http://ow.ly/DgV3E
  • Supreme Court declines appeal from Louisiana parishes over BP 2010 Deepwater Horizon environmental damage suits http://ow.ly/D5vC8
  • BP senior vice president op-ed: "No, BP Didn't Ruin the Gulf" http://ow.ly/D9Njv
  • Turtle Island Restoration Network asks Gov. Jindal to protect endangered sea turtles in Louisiana waters http://ow.ly/D9Pcs
Resource Development -
  • Chemical maker objects to fracking after “near-catastrophic” incident possibly linked to geologic conditions beneath Ohio River http://ow.ly/DdJTc
  • Researchers have identified a new method to trace leaks and spills of fracking fluids in the environment http://ow.ly/D1BWo
  • Ohio Environmental Council: state Supreme Court ruling on strip mining in state lands is a" bad ruling, for state lands" http://ow.ly/D5wHA
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here each week can be viewed in the on-line calendar, located above and to the right (and here as a stand-alone calendar) 
  • USEPA Watershed Academy Webcast on Climate Resilience; Oct. 29 from 1-3 pm EDT ow.ly/De27i and ow.ly/De27j
  • US EPA webcast on new research about cyanobacteria, nutrients and lakes, Oct 30, 1 PM ET ow.ly/DeA5s
  • Next Upper Mississippi River quarterly meetings of UMRBA and UMRR-EMP CC November 17-19, St. Paul, Minnesota; details: http://ow.ly/D9AiC
  • St. Croix River Association Aquatic Invasive Species Workshop, Grantsburg, WI, December 5 http://ow.ly/CWjP8
  • Mark your calendars: U.S. Water Alliance's 2015 One Water Leadership Summit in San Francisco August 25 - 28 http://ow.ly/DeBnh
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • U.S. Global Change Research Program October e-newsletter http://ow.ly/CVSE1
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's October 22 TUWaterWays e-newsletter http://ow.ly/DdGLq (PDF file)
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's Watershed News for October 23 http://ow.ly/DgWVd -  including news of a novel channel migration easement program being offered to landowners
Other news-
  • White House CEQ acting chief: Landscape-level conservation is a priority http://ow.ly/DeKnN
  • Interior Secretary Jewell pushes for "strategic vision" landscape-level conservation at Large Landscape Conservation event http://ow.ly/DgVQe
  • Winners of  the Mississippi Minute Film Festival - "One River, One Minute, Your Vision" - announced http://ow.ly/D9TsQ
  • Winners of the St. Croix River Association's 2014 Photo Contest announced http://ow.ly/D9UJD
  • Scientists and voodoo practitioners partner at New Orleans Anba Dlo festival to address challenges of dealing with water http://ow.ly/D1SM4
  • Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District (Indiana) seeks Watershed Coordinator for Whitewater River Initiative http://ow.ly/D5xxQ
  • Cleanup continues one year after crude oil pipeline rupture in northwestern North Dakota wheat field http://ow.ly/D7AX5
Politics and People-
  • With Rep. Lucas (R-OK) ending a six-year term as Agriculture Committee chair, Rep. Conaway (Texas) expected to be replacement http://ow.ly/Dh2Fa
  • The Hill ranked all 50 states on a red to blue political scale - Kansas and Mississippi are among the top five "reddest" and Minnesota is second-most blue http://ow.ly/DgY6j
  • Republicans would target EPA power plant, ozone, water rules if Senate changes hands http://ow.ly/D9VV0
  • House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has sent out a preview of the House agenda for next year http://ow.ly/Dhd2x
  • New York Times: With farms fading and urban might rising, political power shifts in Iowa  http://ow.ly/D5yV4
  • Valerie Naylor, longtime superintendent of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, will retire at the end of the month http://ow.ly/D5tCT
  • US EPA deputy chief of staff Arvin Ganesan is leaving the agency http://ow.ly/DdEDy
  • Senate Republican Leader wants to get must-pass legislation completed during lame-duck session, so GOP can start fresh in 2015 in the majority http://ow.ly/D1yVU
  • Poll: Democratic voters are tuning out the U.S. midterms http://ow.ly/D1Vk5
  • Flood control, recreation are hot topics in campaigns for five Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District board seats http://ow.ly/D22LX
Your Moment of Zen - 
Bison

Friday, October 17, 2014

What We Learned This Week - "Some Like It Hot"

Iowa's new clean water rule has drawn complaints from citizen activists for not going far enough in protecting state waters from pollution at large-scale livestock facilities.  Drugs flushed into the environment may be a significant factor in wildlife decline. The Illinois River town of Havana, Illinois has more Asian carp than anywhere else in the world.  Nearly four decades ago a Food and Drug Administration consultant was right on the farm antibiotic overuse issue, though Congress told him to back off.  Farmers are now able to plant new types of corn and soybeans that are genetically engineered to tolerate Roundup and 2,4-D herbicides approved by the U.S. EPA this week for use in the Midwest.  The Natural Resources Defense Council asked a federal court to review the U.S. EPA approval.  The USDA announced efforts to assist farmers in addressing the increase in weeds growing resistant to herbicides such as Roundup and 2,4-D.  The Earth is on a hot streak thanks to its human inhabitants, having just experienced the warmest six-month stretch ever recorded and the hottest summer in over century of record-keeping.  Pentagon leaders believe that the trend poses an immediate threat to national security; however, others don't seem particularly concerned.  The U.S. Treasury Department cleared the way for Gulf of Mexico states and local governments to receive coastal restoration money. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and a group representing small businesses called upon the Obama Administration to withdraw a proposed rule clarifying which waters fall under Clean Water Act jurisdiction. And last but not least, fish in one in four U.S. streams contain methylmercury at levels above U.S. EPA's human health protection criterion (including streams in Pennsylvania and near small businesses).

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
Hello From Moline's Riverfront
Greetings from what eventually turned into a sunny Moline, Illinois, along the banks of the Mississippi River, where River advocates, scientists, policy-makers and many others gathered during the week for two important, back-to-back River-related events: the Mississippi River Network's annual meeting, and the Mississippi River Conference.  The Mississippi River Network meeting saw two packed days of thinking, talking, sharing, laughing and recreating, as Network members mapped a course for the organization and the River over the next years (and decades).  The Conference, on Thursday and Friday, was co-sponsored by the Network, River Action and the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative.  It kicked off on Thursday with an informative plenary presentation by Matt Rota of the Gulf Restoration Network on Gulf of Mexico hypoxia, its connection to upstream pollution, and what can be done to reverse problematic historic trends. Thursday also included a lunchtime pictorial and musical journey down the Mississippi hosted by Dean Klinkenberg, otherwise known as the "Mississippi Valley Traveler." You can find out more about the Conference content at its web site.  The week started drearily enough but is closing with the sun shining; mirroring in the end, perhaps, the reenergized states of those facilitating, contributing to and attending the two Riverbank happenings.

USGS: Fish in One in Four U.S. Streams Contain Methylmercury at Levels Above Health Criterion
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report this week (entitled "Mercury in the Nation’s Streams—Levels, Trends, and Implications") that summarizes stream studies conducted by USGS since the late 1990s, and also draws on scientific literature and datasets from a variety of other sources.  The report assesses U.S. streams in what the agency calls a "comprehensive, multimedia" manner, and provides insights about the importance of watershed characteristics relative to mercury inputs to those streams.  The four major findings in the report include: (1) methylmercury concentrations in fish exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's criterion for the protection of human health in about one in four streams; (2) wetlands increase the amount of inorganic mercury converted to methylmercury (the form that bioaccumulates in fish); (3) existing mercury monitoring programs lack the design elements and data to link methylmercury levels to mercury sources; and (4) mercury emission reduction strategies need to consider global mercury sources in addition to domestic sources.  Click here to see the USGS report summary and overview, and to link to the report, itself. 


Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Op-ed: "Opposition to proposed EPA rule is surprising" http://ow.ly/CK69P
  • Editorial: Let EPA seek cleaner water ow.ly/CSQyn
  • Small businesses group accuses the US EPA of a ‘massive power grab’ to extend its authority over small bodies of water http://ow.ly/CQzaa
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection calls on US EPA to withdraw the proposed rule redefining "waters of the U.S." http://ow.ly/CQzyU
  • USGS: Fish in one in four U.S. streams contain methylmercury levels above U.S. EPA's human health protection criterion ow.ly/CQBRd
  • Driller spills 42,000-gallon of brine into tributary of a Missouri River reservoir http://ow.ly/CIGtW
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeks comments on Mississippi River-St. Cloud Watershed water quality report http://ow.ly/CIJGj
  • This year's Mississippi River Conference addresses Dead Zone cleanup http://ow.ly/CJ1ex
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Supreme Court Justices vexed by Kansas - Nebraska water dispute case; ruling expected next June http://ow.ly/CMNNz
  • Regulations do nothing to address the main driver of U.S. wanton consumption of water: its low price http://ow.ly/CQArT
  • EPA awards $15,000 to University of Tulsa in Oklahoma for an innovative, wireless-based water conservation project http://ow.ly/CQBkb
Agriculture -
  • U.S. farmers are cutting back on spreading fertilizer this autumn in response to a drop in crop prices http://ow.ly/CUdoL
  • Report: Global agricultural productivity isn’t increasing fast enough to meet the growing demand in the coming decades http://ow.ly/CUdMR
  • Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich: Iowa is perfect place to start new conversation about moving U.S. agriculture away from influence of large businesses http://ow.ly/CMTQa
  • U.S. EPA approves new Roundup/2,4-D herbicide formulation for use in six Midwestern states ow.ly/CQynl (see below)
  • The Environmental Working Group is “deeply disappointed” in the USEPA Roundup/2,4-D herbicide formulation approval ow.ly/CQyCl
  • Natural Resources Defense Council asks federal court to review U.S. EPA herbicide approval decision ow.ly/CSseU
  • The USDA has announced efforts to assist farmers in addressing the increase of herbicide resistant weeds http://ow.ly/CQT55
  • Reflection on USDA crop forecast reports: Time to Cut Back on Corn? http://ow.ly/CINPi
  • Farmland prices in Kansas rose an average of 17.1 percent per acre in 2014 http://ow.ly/CIKV9
  • Nagging question: Was Stanford University biology professor right on farm antibiotic overuse nearly four decades ago? http://ow.ly/CIPK7
  • Whole Foods Market begins ratings program to give consumers more environmental, justice information about produce, flowers http://ow.ly/CMRwz
Climate and Weather -
  • US weekly drought update: large improvements in drought and dryness on the heels of rain
    Click to enlarge
    over much of region http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • Pentagon report asserts decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security http://ow.ly/CIQGJ
  • NASA: Earth Just Experienced the Warmest Six-Month Stretch Ever Recorded http://ow.ly/CJ5RX
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: summer of 2014 was hottest ever recorded in over century of record-keeping http://ow.ly/CMVGK
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Studies: Drugs flushed into the environment could be cause of wildlife decline http://ow.ly/CIER7
  • Feral hogs are the latest foe being taken on by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
    Northern Long-Eared Bat
    (Louisiana) http://ow.ly/CIO1S
  • Havana, Illinois, on the Illinois River, "has more Asian carp than any place else on Earth" http://ow.ly/CMMJt
  • Delegation to China studied Yangtze and Mississippi rivers' issues, including the Asian carp present in both http://ow.ly/CMNpq
  • South Dakota GOP Congressional members urge Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw its proposed listing of the northern long-eared bat as endangered http://ow.ly/CMS9O
In the Cities -
  • EPA to provide $67,000 for Technical Assistance to Springfield, Missouri for integrated planning of stormwater and wastewater projects http://ow.ly/CzCon
  • EPA Region 7 settles with city of Raymore, Missouri, to resolve Clean Water Act municipal stormwater violations http://ow.ly/CzC9L
In the States-
  • Iowa's new clean water rule draws complaints from citizen activists for not going far enough to protect waters at large-scale livestock facilities http://ow.ly/CMUi5
  • Accidentally released court filing reveals how company secretly funded NGO to advance favorable Wisconsin mining bill http://ow.ly/CJcWC
Coastal Louisiana -
  • Louisiana public oyster-harvesting area delayed from opening "until further notice" due to low oyster numbers http://ow.ly/CQUZz
  • U.S. Treasury clears way for Gulf states, local governments to get first Restore Act money http://ow.ly/CSux7
  • Louisiana hopes to receive between $1 and $4.9 billion for coastal restoration, related programs from federal Restore Act http://ow.ly/CSu9U
Resource Development -
  • First large ethanol plants to produce biofuel from nonfood sources like corn cobs are starting operations in Midwest http://ow.ly/CIQk3
  • After the Keystone XL pipeline’s rise to the top of D.C.’s energy agenda, the oil industry has moved on http://ow.ly/CMKbH
  • 4,000 barrels of oil spill from Louisiana pipeline http://ow.ly/CQVSF
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here each week can be viewed in the on-line calendar, located above and to the right (and here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Stanford University event streaming live: New Directions for U.S. Water Policy, October 20, 12:00 p.m. ET http://ow.ly/CQX9R
  • Briefing: Agricultural Runoff and Water Quality: Nutrient Loading Impacts and Management Strategies; 3pm ET, October 21, Room 385, Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC http://ow.ly/CMOzX
  • EPA Green Infrastructure webinar series continues on November 4 (Innovative Financing) and December 2 (Localized Flood Management) http://ow.ly/CMKFF
  • EPA Webinar: Creating a Green Infrastructure Plan to Transform Your Community, November 18, 3 PM ET http://ow.ly/CML9Y
  • Green Lands Blue Waters 2014 Conference: Bioenergy and Sustainable Agriculture, November 19-20, Decatur, Illinois http://ow.ly/CIEgR
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Waterfront Bulletin for October 2014 http://ow.ly/CIHoe
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, No 260, Sunday, Oct 12: Character Education on the Mississippi River http://ow.ly/CILB8
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's October 9 http://ow.ly/CIQYF and 16 http://ow.ly/CSJ5v Watershed News 
  • Green Lands Blue Waters update highlighting Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land http://ow.ly/CQCKh
  • Resources for the Future "Resources" issue 187 http://ow.ly/CQDgM
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's TUWaterWays e-newsletter for October 15 http://ow.ly/CQYeJ
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Watershed Network News - Oct. 15, 2014 http://ow.ly/CQYLg
  • Gulf Restoration Network's October 16 issue of "Gulf Waves" http://ow.ly/CSOme
Other news-
  • EPA announces Request for Proposals for Healthy Watershed Consortium Grant http://ow.ly/CQTUc
  • Open Space Council for the St. Louis region receives $25,000 EPA grant for Lower Meramec Watershed stewardship, education ow.ly/CSINN
  • Position announcement: Associate / Assistant Professor in Environmental and Natural Resource Policy, Ohio State University: ow.ly/CSQ5O
Politics and People-
  • Iowa Libertarian U.S. Senate nominee Doug Butzier died Monday when his plane crashed near Dubuque Regional Airport http://ow.ly/CQUoW
  • Whether the Democrats or Republicans win control of U.S. Senate in November, the parties will continue tearing themselves apart from the inside http://ow.ly/CJe17
  • Senate Democrats throwing in the funding "towel" in their attempt to oust incumbent Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) http://ow.ly/CMQPO
  • Over 151,000 Iowans already have cast their ballots ahead of the November 4 midterm elections http://ow.ly/CQwYz
Your Moment of Zen -
40,000-plus year-old cave art in a rural area on the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi.  Recently discovered, these represent some the earliest cave paintings produced by humans.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hello From Moline's Riverfront

Hello from (now) sunny Moline, Illinois, along the banks of the Mississippi River, where River advocates, scientists, policy-makers and others have been gathering all this week for two back-to-back River-related events: the Mississippi River Network's annual meeting, and the Mississippi River Conference.  The Mississippi River Network meeting saw two packed days of thinking, talking, sharing, laughing and recreating, as Network members mapped a course for the organization over the next years (and decades!). The Conference was co-sponsored by the Network, River Action and the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative.  It kicked off on Thursday with an informative opening plenary presentation by Matt Rota of the Gulf Restoration Network on the Gulf Dead Zone, its connection to upstream pollution activities, and what can be done to reverse problematic past trends.  Thursday also included a lunchtime pictorial and musical journey down the Mississippi hosted by Dean Klinkenberg, the "Mississippi Valley Traveler."  You can find out more about the Conference content at its web site.  The week started drearily enough but is closing with the sun shining; mirroring at the end, perhaps, the hope-filled and energized dispositions of those facilitating, contributing to and attending the two happenings along the River.

USGS: Fish in One in Four U.S. Streams Contain Methylmercury at Levels Above Health Criterion

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report this week (entitled "Mercury in the Nation’s Streams—Levels, Trends, and Implications") that summarizes stream studies conducted by USGS since the late 1990s, and also draws on scientific literature and datasets from a variety of other sources.  The report assesses U.S. streams in what the agency calls a "comprehensive, multimedia" manner, and provides insights about the importance of watershed characteristics relative to mercury inputs to those streams.  The four major findings in the report include: (1) methylmercury concentrations in fish exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's criterion for the protection of human health in about one in four streams; (2) wetlands increase the amount of inorganic mercury converted to methylmercury (the form that bioaccumulates in fish); (3) existing mercury monitoring programs lack the design elements and data to link methylmercury levels to mercury sources; and (4) mercury emission reduction strategies need to consider global mercury sources in addition to domestic sources.  Click here to see the USGS report summary and overview, and to link to the report, itself. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
This Week and Next
Moline, Illinois, on the Mississippi River
It was a fairly “light” news week that saw extensions (in the Clean Water Act jurisdiction proposed rule comment period), delays (in farm commodity shipments from the Corn Belt) and unusually rampant negativity (in voter opinion and Congressional candidate ads).  There was some good news, though: two U.S. Senators from Mississippi River states are tied atop the list of best cooks for their august chamber.  Next week may not be quite so thin on River Basin news, however, as River advocates, scientists, policy-makers and others will be gathering in Moline, Illinois for two back-to-back events: the Mississippi River Network annual meeting, and the Mississippi River Conference.

If you'd like to see the one-paragraph summary of the week's news, check out "What We Learned This Week - 'Delay of Game'." Otherwise, enjoy all of the postings in bite-sized bits, below.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Buried network of drainage tile system pipes on farms can carry away as much phosphorus as surface runoff http://ow.ly/Cuzgg
  • EPA extends comment period on proposed clean waters jurisdiction rule until November 14 http://ow.ly/Cl7G3
  • Republican attorneys general, governors urge Obama administration to scrap contentious clean water proposal; story: http://ow.ly/Cyg0O and letter: http://ow.ly/Cyfqf
  • Owner agrees to pay $7,500 civil penalty to settle alleged Clean Water Act violations at its Iowa dairy operation http://ow.ly/CfRfW
  • West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio-based groups have water quality concerns about West Virginia plans to drill beneath Ohio River; story: http://ow.ly/Clg22 (letter to WV Governor: http://ow.ly/Clg3n)
  • West Virginia man pleads guilty to repeatedly faking compliant water quality standards for coal companies http://ow.ly/CyEp4
  • Report: Lead from police Chattanooga-Hamilton County firing range may be leaching into Tennessee River http://ow.ly/CyEJI
  • Wisconsin’s Trempealeau County shuts down frac sand mine operation that allegedly discharged wastewater into unlined pond http://ow.ly/Crcr6
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • It's time for America to talk about the price of water http://ow.ly/CqyGe
  • "A Complete Guide to the Future of U.S. Freight Movement" including cargo shipping (i.e.,
    Coon Rapids Dam
    "big ships") http://ow.ly/Cfp9E
  • Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO): Mississippi River will become more important than it has been in 100 years for food distribution http://ow.ly/Clf2n
  • Costs to send Midwest crops by barge to New Orleans export terminals escalate, as shipping fees double over past year http://bloom.bg/1q7txSV
  • Transportation consultant: Mississippi River transportation at capacity; may be next bottleneck for grain shipments http://ow.ly/Cvwks
  • Army Corps of Engineers maintaining above average releases at four lower Missouri River dams to prepare for 2015 runoff http://ow.ly/Cyt0S
  • U.S. Supreme Court hearing next week on Kansas-Nebraska dispute regarding compensation for use of Republican River water http://ow.ly/CrkUI
  • $16 million rehabilitation of Mississippi River's Coon Rapids Dam nears completion; designed largely to stop Asian carp http://ow.ly/CrpHP
  • Repairs to Zink Dam on the Arkansas River are taking longer than planned and the cost is increasing http://ow.ly/CyrBG
  • Oklahoma officials, business leaders: deterioration of McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System threatens commerce ow.ly/CuJxE
  • Disjuncture between plaintiffs’ arguments and Missouri River hydrological, historical facts will doom property owner lawsuit vs. Army Corps over 2011 flood http://ow.ly/CytL4
Agriculture -
  • Barge and railroad complications in the northern Corn Belt could drop corn prices throughout the Midwest http://ow.ly/Cuych
  • Railroad delays hitting farmers hard in western Minnesota http://ow.ly/CldoE
  • Agriculture interest groups: oil tanker-car safety regs may compound a transportation nightmare for agriculture and other commodities http://ow.ly/CjX49
  • There is growing evidence that pesticides may alter farmers’ mental health http://ow.ly/CkgFt
  • Manure from antibiotic-treated farm animals spread onto soil can cause soil bacteria to grow resistant to the drugs http://ow.ly/CneDa
  • Land prices in Missouri increased in the past year at a rate higher than expected (4.6%) http://ow.ly/CuBpc
  • Farm ministers: Wealthy countries subsidize their farmers at the expense of developing nations and global security http://ow.ly/CmXsQ
  • Event celebrates Central State University's (Ohio) new designation as an 1890 Land-Grant Institution under the 2014 Farm Bill http://ow.ly/CovGF
  • U.S. may gather 14.54 billion bushels of corn this year, topping a government forecast of a record 14.395 billion bushels http://ow.ly/CqBlD
  • Agriculture industry hopes to use new technologies to gather and analyze large, complex data sets ("Big Data") http://ow.ly/CuC60
  • Big Data: American Farm Bureau Federation develops four educational videos about the agricultural trend of data analysis, tools http://ow.ly/CyeGf
  • Factory farm questions crop up in local Missouri elections http://bit.ly/1s2vl2J
Climate and Weather -
  • US weekly drought monitor update: Drought recovery continues across much of Upper Mississippi and Missouri river regions, except in spots; changes for the worse across south-central Oklahoma along Red River http://ow.ly/wmTdv
  • Georgetown Climate Center launching online tool analyzing progress on state, regional and local climate adaptation plans http://ow.ly/CyuGh
  • EPA releases “Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans” http://ow.ly/CkMRX
  • Insurers may soon be able to measure their climate risk with "Actuaries Climate Index" http://ow.ly/CrwCU (news story: http://ow.ly/Crx36)
  • White House releases plan to preserve the carbon sequestration value of federal lands http://ow.ly/CuuD8
  • Weak El NiƱo weather pattern expected to occur in next 1-2 months, last into next spring in the Northern Hemisphere http://ow.ly/Cyi5Q
  • Study finds National Wildlife Refuge System management plans are ahead of peers re: climate change adaptation, but more needs to be done http://ow.ly/CvuxS
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Progress Report for National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy
    Emerald ash borer
    Published (September 2014) http://ow.ly/CfmXz
  • Invasive American bullfrogs spread down the Yellowstone River in Montana as authorities struggle to contain them http://ow.ly/CfQIE
  • Op-ed: "What does the research actually say about the economic effects of wilderness designations?" http://ow.ly/CjVvM
  • West Virginia biologists restoring Ohio, Kanawha and Elk rivers' mussel populations http://ow.ly/ClfD3
  • Invasive emerald ash borer found in Springfield, Logan and Menard counties, Illinois http://ow.ly/CnfOo
  • Three Mississippi River Basin locations included in top five "birding hotspots in Wisconsin" http://ow.ly/CrnNB
  • Republican Senate committee leaders ask Administration to withdraw proposed rules, draft policy relating to Endangered Species Act critical habitat http://ow.ly/CuCQx
  • Scientists: proposed Endangered Species Act critical habitat changes lack scientific merit, would fail to curb cumulative habitat impacts http://ow.ly/CvU9l
In the Cities -
  • Keokuk, Iowa City Council finalizing plans for $6 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade along Mississippi River http://ow.ly/Cn0Qd
  • Drought leads to trihalomethane contamination in Duncan, Oklahoma water supply http://ow.ly/CnfkK
In the States-
  • Ohio Farmers Union plans to seek changes in water quality and agriculture-related bill pending in state Legislature http://ow.ly/CkNAU
  • Op-ed by State Sen. Rob Hogg, Cedar Rapids: Governor "Terry Branstad has Iowa on a pollution course" http://ow.ly/CmZMR
  • North Dakota constitutional amendment ballot measure that would create state conservation fund has drawn strong support and opposition http://ow.ly/Cog11
  • As Colorado prepares its first statewide water plan, some interest groups struggle to make their voices heard http://ow.ly/Cra5Z
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Union of Concerned Scientists: sea-level-rise-driven tidal flooding set to dramatically increase in U.S. East, Gulf Coast http://ow.ly/CraVM
  • Why Americans are flocking to their sinking shores even as the risks mount (second in a series of Reuters articles examines the phenomenon of rising seas, and its effects on the United States) http://ow.ly/CqxSd (Here is part one: http://ow.ly/B8Q9W)
  • Amidst rising water and sinking land, people in southern Louisiana are sitting
    tight http://ow.ly/CjUeE
  • $627M in Gulf Coast restoration projects (for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill) receive final approval http://ow.ly/CggXp
  • U.S. EPA awards $2.5 million to Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana to improve coastal wetlands in Louisiana http://ow.ly/CrmaZ
  • Interior Department Inspector General questions $14.2 million spent by Louisiana, parish governments on coastal restoration http://ow.ly/CrbD3
  • Inspector General: USEPA office misspent over $780,000 tagged for Louisiana coastal wetland improvements http://ow.ly/Cygu0
  • NY Times Magazine: A quixotic historian tries to hold oil and gas companies responsible for Louisiana’s disappearing coast http://ow.ly/CjTHJ
  • Louisiana judge rules that new law meant to terminate levee board wetland loss lawsuit against oil and gas companies doesn't apply to the suit http://ow.ly/Coh1f
  • Louisiana Oil and Gas Assn. argues that state law blocking wetlands damage suit is constitutional http://ow.ly/CyFJl
Resource Development -
  • USDA announces $91 million loan guarantee to help finance an innovative advanced biofuel plant in Rapides Parish, Louisiana ow.ly/Cg1NT
  • Sustainable Bioenergy, Farms, and Forests' issue coverage leading up to Administration’s final announcement on 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard http://ow.ly/CjUTf
  • La Salle County okays Illinois River sand-shipping barge terminal lease over concerns of property owners; clears way for slurry line http://ow.ly/Cysi8
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here each week can be viewed in the on-line calendar, located above and to the right (and here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • University of Illinois sedimentary geologist organizes colloquium series on "The Future of Big Rivers: Form, Flux, Ecology and Management" (October 2014 - April 2015) http://ow.ly/CltWE
  • "There's No Plate Like Home: Food, Health and the Power of the 100-mile Plate" St. Louis, MO Oct. 11 http://t.co/FZYuwMP1DY
  • Webinar: Climate Change and National Security, October 16, 2-4 PM ET http://ow.ly/Cgglw
  • Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference, Duluth, Minn., October 20-22; seeks to strengthen region’s ability to manage invasive species http://ow.ly/CotUD
  • EPA Watershed Academy Webcast: “Climate Resilience: What to Expect, How to Prepare, What You Can Learn from Others;" Oct. 29, 1-3 PM ET http://ow.ly/Cg5zF
  • National Academies' Water Science and Technology Board meeting on Affordability of National Flood Insurance Program Premiums; Nov. 3-4, Washington, DC http://ow.ly/CfvVd
  • Arbor Day Foundation 2014 Partners in Community Forestry Conference, November 5-6, Charlotte, NC http://bit.ly/1slQaZw
  • RFF and AAAS event: Nobel Laureate Mario Molina to speak about how U.S. should prepare for climate change risks, November 12, 4 PM ET http://ow.ly/CuDxG (webcast and in person)
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment 45th Anniversary Gala; November 21, 6:30-9 PM, St. Louis, MO http://ow.ly/CkW3U
  • River Rally 2015, Santa Ana Pueblo, NM, May 1-4, 2015 http://ow.ly/Cfh4d
  • 14th National Watershed Conference and National Watershed Program Partner Summit, Ft. Worth, Texas, May 17-20, 2015 http://ow.ly/CrrK6
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's October 2 Watershed News http://ow.ly/Cg2aF
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, No 259, October 9: "Maps: You Are Here – Now Get Lost!" http://ow.ly/CusVy
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's BALMM Currents (Basin Alliance for the Lower Mississippi in Minnesota), October 9 http://ow.ly/CuRFU
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's October 8 "TUWaterWays" e-newsletter http://ow.ly/Cvyo9
Other news-
  • In Minnesota, wildlife experts campaign for copper bullets http://ow.ly/CjTka
  • Company to abandon 144 miles of rail corridor, and give it to Missouri Department of Natural Resources for trail development http://ow.ly/ClcXH
  • The Nature Conservancy’s Missouri Chapter seeks to fill a “Watershed Restoration Specialist” position http://ow.ly/CojOu
  • EPA launches broad collaborative of external stakeholders to advance green infrastructure implementation http://ow.ly/Cye2T
Politics and People-
  • The oil and gas industry, longtime supporter of Senate Energy Committee Chair Mary Landrieu (D-La.), reconsiders its political alliances http://ow.ly/Cydbd 
  • EPA veteran Stan Meiburg comes out of retirement to become agency's acting Deputy Administrator; story: http://ow.ly/CmWu1 and video announcement: ow.ly/CmWfg
  • Wesleyan Media Project: Senate race negative ads far outweighing positive, and at higher rate than in recent elections. Dem ads more negative than GOP http://on.wsj.com/ZPTFvy
  • As of today, early in-person mid-term election voting is already underway in the Mississippi River Basin states of Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana http://ow.ly/Cnd2O
  • Electoral confusion abounds for voters in Wisconsin and Ohio, as last minute court decisions change procedures http://ow.ly/Cr4m2
  • What staffers really think of their Hill bosses: the results of The Washingtonian's 15th biennial survey http://ow.ly/CqZcB
Your Moment of Zen -
Monarch butterflies (Photo by Frans Lanting/Gallery Stock)