Friday, July 2, 2010

Mississippi River Water Resource News for the Week

Gulf of Mexico 2010 Dead Zone Prediction
A report released this week based on the Federally-funded work of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium in Cocodrie (LUMCON) and Louisiana State University indicates that this year's Gulf of Mexico hypoxic (or "dead") zone will be among the largest recorded, on the order of 6,500 to 7,800 square miles (or about the size of New Jersey). However, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill's effect on this year's dead zone is largely unknown (news article here), according to Nancy Rabalais, director of LUMCON. University of Michigan ecologist Donald Scavia says the BP spill could make the dead zone larger because microbes use oxygen when consuming oil. But the effect could be offset if the oil limits algae growth to begin with (see a news article on the impacts of the oil spill on the dead zone here).

The Gulf of Mexico dead zone is largely attributable to oxygen depletion caused by annual massive algal die-offs and decomposition. The increased algal growth has been linked to excessive nutrients entering the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River system. Most of those nutrients originate from farming practices upstream within the watershed (see a National Academies report on the hypoxic zone and nutrient runoff here).

House Fiscal Year 2011 Agriculture Appropriations Activity
Agricultural conservation funding remained intact following an evening vote this past Wednesday in the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, approving the House agriculture fiscal year 2011 spending bill. The Subcommittee unanimously approved the bill Wednesday night after hours of debate over proposed Republican amendments, all of which were rejected. The bill keeps intact major spending boosts for energy and conservation that Congress set two years ago, and rejects cuts to those programs that the White House proposed in its fiscal year 2011 budget. Democratic leaders said the future of the agriculture appropriations bill is uncertain given the current gridlock over the budget, which has put the annual appropriations process well behind schedule. Read the full New York Times story here.

National Academies' Report on Farming Sustainability Released
A National Academies’ National Research Council report concludes that American farmers are producing more food than ever, but that agricultural research is too focused on increasing production and needs to do much better at considering the consequences of farming such as water and air pollution. The report, "Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century," assesses the scientific evidence for the strengths and weaknesses of different production, marketing, and policy approaches for improving agricultural sustainability and reducing the costs and unintended consequences of agricultural production. (The full report is available to view and download as a PDF file here, and you can read an AP article summarizing the report findings here.

Notable @UpperMiss tweets for the week:
  • Senate EPW Committee approves series of measures to protect great water bodies across US
  • Statements from today's House subcommittee hearing to review USDA administration & delivery of conservation programs
  • Ag Secretary Vilsack suggests Congress make it a goal to add 100,000 new farmers
  • Minnesota = "The Land of 1,000 Impaired Lakes"
  • Pump failure in St. Louis potentially caused millions of gallons of untreated sewage to flow into Mississippi R
  • EPA releases final decision on MO's 2008 impaired waters list; delists 4 water bodies & restores 15
  • EPA approves IA DNR designated use changes for 64 water bodies & disapproves changes for 93
  • Invitations open to submit session proposal for August 2011 National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration, Baltimore
  • WI efforts to establish flock of whooping cranes meet with some success around Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
  • Black bears regain foothold in Wisconsin after 100-year absence
  • Minnesota River Watershed Alliance: July 2010 Meeting Invitation
  • June is 2nd wettest on record for IL; results in high IL & MS River levels
  • MPCA beginning 3rd year of 10-yr effort to assess river, stream & lake conditions in MN
  • "Healthy Rivers, Healthy Cities" blog on U of MN's River Talk site
  • Gulf oil spill could threaten Wisconsin loon population this fall
  • Ag Sec. Vilsack: cuts could be made to environmental quality incentives program to pay for child nutrition programs
  • Missourians asked to celebrate freedom from invasive species for Independence Day
  • New report is first to quantify payments for watershed services & water quality trading programs
  • MN Pollution Control Agency Citizens Board agrees to cut turbidity H2O quality standards in half
  • Link to the "America's Inner Coastal Summit" Facebook page re: Mississippi River watershed issues:
  • MN waters & fish may never meet mercury reduction goals
  • EDF’s July 2 issue of Delta Dispatches with the Latest News on Efforts to Restore Coastal LA now on-line
  • Drought takes its toll on WI natural resources
  • MN removes two lakes off the (invasive) infested waters list
  • Sixteen states begin dishwasher detergent phosphate ban today

No comments:

Post a Comment