Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer of Healing

We join with the earth
and with each other to bring new life to the land

to restore the waters

to refresh the air
to renew the forests
to care for the plants
to protect the creatures
to celebrate the seas
to rejoice in the sunlight
to sing a song of the stars
to recall our destiny
to renew our spirits
to reinvigorate our bodies

to create the human community
to remember our children
to promote peace and justice

(from Grassroots Coalition for Environmental and Economic Justice, Clarksville, MD)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week (Pre-Holiday Edition)

Monthly Mississippi River Basin Update
The November Update (PDF file) from the Northeast-Midwest Institute on Mississippi River Basin issues is now available on line.  This month’s Update contains these items: 
  • 111th and 112th Congresses
  • Water Resources Development Act
  • Continuing Resolution and Prospects for an Appropriation Bill
  • NRC Report: Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico
  • The Consequences of Dams Conference
  • Most River Flows across U.S. Altered by Land and Water Management, Leading to Ecological Degradation
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center Confluence Field Station Dedicated
  • Delta Dispatches
  • Upcoming Conferences, Events and Workshops

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

In the States -
  • EPA approves IA DNR designated use changes for 69 H2O bodies; disapproves 57 proposed changes
  • Cargill discharge into the Illinois River a focus of Environment Illinois report
  • EPA's proposed Hinkson Creek stormwater runoff restrictions draw stiff Columbia, MO city resistance
  • USGS Study: Mercury a health risk in Indiana fish
  • Op-ed: Courts should ensure WI waters meet federal minimum standards & don't "become pollution havens"
  • Minnesota keeps existing rule imposing limits on manganese in drinking water
Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
  • MO Gov. Nixon urges federal diligence on Upper Mississippi River Comprehensive Plan; concerned about 'Plan H'
  • Summer of 1993 Great Mississippi River Flood photoshoot for National Geographic (stunning)
  • Engineers: Lowering New Orleans floodwalls could improve canal safety
  • Supporters of earmarks say they help fill infrastructure needs like deteriorating Mississippi R flood-controls
Agriculture -
  • "How should the farm subsidy program be changed?" 6 NY Times blog perspectives:
  • USDA designates 28  southern Missouri counties as natural disaster areas because of severe drought
  • Environmental economist op-ed: "Muddy rivers-don’t blame farmers"\
  • USDA releases final FY10 contract & payment data for conservation easement programs
  • OK Farm Bureau: top Farm Bill priority: continuation of direct payments & revenue assurance
  • Conservative GOP senators calling on Congress to let billions in ethanol subsidies expire
Wastewater and Stormwater-
  • Op-ed: Courts should ensure WI waters meet federal minimum standards & don't "become pollution havens"
  • Illinois River makes mighty comeback
  • Study: 50% of the water used inside US homes can be reused to irrigate landscapes & flush toilets
Events -
  • Low Impact Development Conference: Greening the Urban Environment; Sept 25-28, 2011, Philadelphia, PA
  • Mississippi River Bald Eagle program set for Dec. 5 Visitor Center at Locks & Dam #15
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Other news-
Mississippi River Basin politics -
  • Post-Thanksgiving portion of Congressional lame duck destined to last at least till Friday, Dec. 17
  • Today Senator Stabenow (D-MI) announced she will chair the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee
  • NSAC: Federal Appropriations Likely Headed for Continuing Resolution
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell's earmark power credited for revitalizing Louisville's Ohio River waterfront

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (Teleconference Today)
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in collaboration with other Federal, State and local agencies as well as non-governmental entities, is conducting the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) pursuant to provisions of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. GLMRIS will explore options and technologies, collectively known as aquatic nuisance species (ANS) controls, that could be applied to prevent and reduce the risk of ANS transfer between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins through aquatic pathways.  The GLMRIS team is hosting a teleconference today at 11 AM EST (10 AM Central) to answer questions the public may have regarding recently released documents or upcoming public scoping meetings. On November 9 USACE released the GLMRIS study plan to the public. The study plan outlines the scope of work and study process.
On December 15 USACE will hold the first of several public scoping meetings at the Gleacher Center in Chicago to receive comments from the public regarding the proposed study. Locations of additional scoping meetings are still being confirmed for meetings in the January-February timeframe. Specific details on dates and locations on those meetings will be release by USACE when finalized.

Call-in information for today's call:
USA Toll-Free: (888) 830-6260
The study documents and other information about GLMRIS and the scoping meetings are available on the GLMRIS website.

Dams and Consequences
Last week I had the pleasure to participate in the "Experiments on Rivers: The Consequences of Dams-An Interdisciplinary Conference;" hosted by the University of Minnesota's Institute for Advanced Study and held at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory in Minneapolis, Minnesota (some photos here).  The conference goal with respect to dams was to raise questions and explore complexities, provoke reflection, consider new perspectives and suggest future lines of inquiry in diverse disciplines and practices.  And at that promoting that goal, the Conference excelled. Links to the various talks by conference participants can be found here.

At the end of the conference Terry Cook from The Nature Conservancy (who addressed TNC's Sustainable Rivers Project) and I were paired in a final session ("Where Might We Go from Here?") meant to ground conference attendees in pragmatic, policy and programmatic frames of reference. Terry's excellent talk, and my talk, entitled "The Once and Future King" (at about the 34-minute mark) can both be viewed at the Session 4 link.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week: 

In the States -
  • IA panel gives initial approval to proposed CAFO rules designed to bring IA into Clean Water Act compliance
  • Critics worry that IA clean water regs will favor concentrated feedlots & leave state's streams/rivers polluted
  • Lake Rebecca (Rockford, MN) gets a dose of alum for algae blooms in an attempt to sequester phosphorus
  • Cities worried about MN DNR Mississippi River Corridor Critical Area rules
Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
Agriculture -
Wastewater and Stormwater-
  • Prairie Rivers Network's "Stormwater Management: Guide to Managing Stormwater with Green Infrastructure" (pdf)
Events -
  • 76th North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference March 14-19, 2011; Kansas City MO
  • StormCon, Surface Water Quality Conference, August 21 – 25, seeking abstracts; submission deadline December 14
  • EPA webinar: "Climate Change Adaptation Tools for Addressing Water Issues" Dec. 2, 2010; 1-3pm EST
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Rare sunfish reacts positively to TNC wetland restoration efforts in IL River floodplains
  • Endocrine disruptors affecting male fish in Minnesota lakes
  • French Television focuses on Asian carp solution proposed to be located along Mississippi R in Grafton IL
  • Kaskaskia River sites to benefit from Ducks Unlimited assistance under new scope of work
  • Tundra swans now congregating on Mississippi River backwaters and pools
  • Corps on their study re: stopping invasive species migration btwn Great Lakes & Mississippi watersheds: could take years
  • Senate & House bills would list bighead carp among invasive & other "illegal" plants & wildlife under the Lacey Act
Other news -
  • USGS study "Mercury in Indiana Watersheds" - Coal-fired power plants contaminate fish, water
Mississippi River Basin politics -
  • Decisions on House committee leadership positions in next Congress won't come until December
  • Rep. Melissa Bean’s (D-IL) US House reelection bid ends as she concedes IL seat to Republican Joe Walsh
  • Bills up for vote next year for farms, highways & water projects will put fiscal conservatives to early test
  • Who will Democrats find to put on House Agriculture Committee?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week ("Early Edition")

Early Edition Released! 
Since your FNB ("Friendly Neighborhood Blogger") will be in travel mode the next two days, here is the "Early Edition" of this week's "Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week."  This edition will be updated with new news items during the rest of the week, as warranted and as time allows.

Shameless Plug

First a blatant plug and advertisement for what I'll be doing the next two days, which is presenting a talk entitled "The Once and Future King" at the "Experiments on Rivers: The Consequences of Dams-An Interdisciplinary Conference;" being held on Thursday and Friday, November 11-12, at the University of Minnesota's Institute for Advanced Study in Minneapolis.  The conference is free and open to the public, however, space is limited and pre-registration is advised. You may register by contacting the Institute for Advanced Study at or 612-626-5054.   The conference goal is to raise questions and explore complexities, to provoke reflection from consideration of new perspectives, and to suggest future lines of inquiry in diverse disciplines and practices.  So, it will be a great conference to attend even if you don't care to listen to yours truly. For more information about the conference, including a full agenda, visit here

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

In the States -

Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
  • "The Once and Future King"- NEMWI talk at "Consequences of Dams-An Interdisciplinary Conference" Minneapolis; Friday
Agriculture -
  • When it comes to influencing how farmers grow their crops, the real power may someday be Walmart not Congress
  • Mid-term election has farmers across country nervous about what that might mean for 2012 Farm Bill
  • Conditions are right for a bubble in farmland real estate values
  • H2O scarcity to generate big returns for irrigation sector once climate change & population take toll on farming
  • Groups file suit to overturn EPA decision allowing higher gasoline ethanol levels; say it could push up food prices
Events -
  • U of MN's "Experiments on Rivers: The Consequences of Dams-An Interdisciplinary Conference" Thurs & Fri
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Minnesota-Wisconsin Invasive Species Summit; 2 states plan to share resources to fight invasives
  • MN DNR Invasive Species Program offering 3 types of Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Grants
Other news -
Mississippi River Basin politics -
  • House Ag Comm Chair Peterson lobbying Senate Budget Committee Chair Conrad to become Chair of Senate Ag Comm
  • Sen. Conrad to reporters: may step down as Senate Budget Comm Chair to become Ag Comm Chair
  • For KY House seat Rep. Ben Chandler's (D) 649-vote lead looks to hold with only recanvass to be completed
  • Likely recount battle ahead in Minnesota governor's race
  • Rep. Bean (D) trails Joe Walsh (R) by 347 for IL House seat; Few absentee ballots remain in Dem-friendly Cook Co; Walsh declares victory.
  • Rep. Rahall (D-WV) seeks to become ranking Democrat on House Transportation & Infrastructure Comm
  • Dramatic change in House Ag Comm & new House & Senate Ag Comm leaders may change congressional ag focus

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Most River Flows across U.S. Altered by Land and Water Management, Leading to Ecological Degradation
New USGS findings released in the journal of Ecological Society of America (ESA), Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and accessible here have lead scientists to conclude that the amount of water flowing in streams and rivers has been significantly altered from land and water management in nearly 90 percent of waters that were assessed in a nationwide USGS study.  Flow alterations are a primary contributor to degraded river ecosystems and loss of native species whose survival and reproduction are tightly linked to specific flow conditions. Researchers found that these consequences can also affect water quality, recreational opportunities and the maintenance of sport fish populations. The USGS contact for the study and principle author of the ESA paper is Daren Carlisle, 703-648-6890,

Mississippi River Valley Bottomland Ecosystem Restoration Conference
The Bottomland Ecosystem Restoration Conference will be held from March 8-10, 2011 in Collinsville, Illinois.  Sponsored by the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry association, this three day conference is designed to bring together natural resource managers from federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, scientists, decision-makers, and other groups in the Upper Mississippi River System as well as the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. The conference will link scientific expertise to specific restoration issues in an effort to provide better solutions to ecosystem management problems.  Presentations will highlight case studies that exemplify successes and failures encountered when applying ecosystem restoration techniques to large river bottomland ecosystems. The third day of the conference will consist of field trips to bottomland restoration sites in the region surrounding the Confluence of the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri Rivers.  For more information, visit here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Stormwater and wastewater -
  • American Water Works Association urges inclusion of water in proposed Federal infrastructure bank
Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
Agriculture -
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory study: Corn-based ethanol doesn't result in land-use change elsewhere (pdf file)
  • Iowa Environmental Council: Report says EPA must set pollution limits in Mississippi river & Gulf
  • Growing grasses for biofuels could increase profits over corn/soy rotation for some farmers (pdf file)
  • What the midterms could mean for federal ag-policy reform
  • New Congress isn’t likely to start writing the next Farm Bill until 2012
  • New Ag Chair Lucas wants to wait until 2012 to pass new Farm Bill, while outgoing Chair Peterson wants it done in 2011
Events -
  • Aug 8-12, 2011: 2nd biennial symposium of the International Society for River Science, Berlin; abstracts due 12/20/10
  • March 8-10, 2011: Bottomland Ecosystem Restoration Conference; Collinsville, IL
  • "Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story" film to be shown in UW-Stout's Jarvis Hall; Nov. 17 at 7 PM
  • Upper Mississippi River Basin Assoc has posted its November 16-18 mtg agendas & background materials here:
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Other news -
  • WI climate change impacts predicted by WI Initiative on Climate Change scientists
Mississippi River Basin politics -
  • Happy day-after-the-election day! The 2012 campaign starts now!
  • The Institute's mid-term election summary & implications for mainstem Mississippi River states:
  • What the midterms could mean for federal ag-policy reform
  • Want to know about the 24 new faces in the 112th Congress representing Mississippi River basin states? Our summary:
  • Kansas' top environmental official asked to step down by Gov. Mark Parkinson (but declines)
    KS Dept of Health & Environment Secretary, fired by Governor after declining to step down
  • The Who - "Won't Get Fooled Again" (will we?)

U.S. House and Senate New Member Information for the River Basin

Want to know who the new faces will be in the 112th Congress representing Mississippi River states?  We have updated our Mississippi River Basin mid-term election summary (see here, below) to include biographical information on each of the 24 persons newly elected to their House and Senate seats.  You can link directly to the pdf file summary here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Meet the New Boss"

A spreadsheet summary of Tuesday's mid-term Gubernatorial, US Senate and US House elections for the ten mainstem Mississippi River states is available now at this link (updated in real time as warranted).  The summary contains no adjustments for the watershed boundary, itself (i.e., the information includes House districts within a border state but outside the watershed). The information has been presented in PDF format for those who don’t necessarily want to use or adapt the spreadsheet. If you would like a copy of the original spreadsheet to work with and adapt on your own, please email Mark Gorman ( The summary includes some notes on individual election result implications. Here are some other, “35,000-foot,” first-cut observations:
  • There were 92 electoral contests in the ten states. As of now, four races (two US House and two Governor’s election outcomes) are still too close to call.
  • Republicans gained in 21 contested races (three Senate, three Governor, 15 House)
  • Democrats gained in one House race; held onto one contested Gubernatorial seat (Arkansas) and 26 House seats; and lost three Senate seats
  • In 66 contests there was no change in the party in power