Friday, July 8, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Widespread Flood Threats to Continue Through Summer in Upper Midwest and Northern Plains 
NOAA’s National Weather Service announced on July 6 that many rivers in the upper Midwest and northern Plains remain above flood stage, and the threat for more flooding will continue throughout the remainder of the summer, as the likelihood of more soaking rains in already flooded regions points to a 2011 flooding scenario that could rival that of 1993, when flood-related damages topped $25 billion (adjusted for inflation). NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has forecast above-average rainfall in much of the upper Midwest and northern Plains over the next two weeks, and above-average rainfall in much of that region in both its one- and three-month weather outlooks.  “The sponge is fully saturated – there is nowhere for any additional water to go,” said Jack Hayes, director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “While unusual for this time of year, all signs point to the flood threat continuing through summer.”

With respect to the Mississippi River Watershed, NOAA notes that throughout the remainder of the summer, the highest flood risk areas include:

  • Throughout the North Central U.S., including the Minnesota River (Minnesota), Upper Mississippi River (Minnesota and Iowa), and Des Moines River (Iowa)
  • Lower Missouri River from Gavin’s Point (Nebraska and South Dakota border) downstream along the border of Nebraska and Iowa, continuing through the borders of Kansas and Missouri then through Missouri to the Mississippi River
  • Tributaries to the Lower Missouri including the James and Big Sioux Rivers in North Dakota
  • Lower Ohio River Valley including the White, Wabash and lower Ohio River; and
  • North Platte River in Colorado
House Appropriations Subcommittee Approves Interior and Environment Spending Bill
On July 7 the House Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee approved a Fiscal Year 2012 Interior and Environment spending bill that would deeply cut funding for EPA and Department of Interior programs and that included over two dozen controversial riders  (see a full description of the bill here).  The bill was approved on a strictly party-line vote.  No amendments were offered by any Subcommittee member during the mark-up session, although Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA-8) noted after the session that he expects "there will be one major overriding amendment and then probably some smaller specific" amendments during the full Appropriations Committee mark-up of the bill, adding, "I think it's going to be a long, drawn-out full committee process."  The full House Appropriation Committee markup of the  spending bill has been scheduled for July 12.  Read more here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week: 

Agriculture -
  • Farmers have planted the second-largest US corn crop in nearly seven decades this spring
  • Iowa GOP Senator Chuck Grassley accepts "political reality" that direct farm payments are over
  • Sen. Roberts announces farm bill field hearing [Wichita, Kansas; August 25]
  • Louisiana's biofuel future rests with farm waste & cellulosic technologies
  • Washington Post Editorial: Why can’t Congress end the wasteful breaks for ethanol?
  • Sens. Feinstein (D-CA), Thune (R-SD) & Klobuchar (D-MN) reach deal on ethanol subsidy repeal
  • Izaak Walton League wants crop insurance to be subject to Conservation Compliance rules in next farm bill
  • House Agriculture Committee continues audit hearings on farm policy; yesterday's focus on conservation
Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
  • Senators Blunt, McCaskill, Hoeven & Conrad launch Missouri River Working Group to address flood control & damage
  • As Missouri River rises in 2011, so do 2012 flood concerns (Army Corps will be pressed to repair levees in time)
  • Floods carried ~60M cubic yds of sediment down Mississippi River; creating obstacles for large ships; raising costs
  • US Dept of Energy: Ohio River corridor at heart of large untapped hydroelectric power potential
  • Missouri River flooding could cause Army Corps to rethink its dam management strategies
  • Proposed new Labadie, MO coal waste dump would sit in Missouri River floodway
  • Controversial coal ash landfill plan on 1100 acres of Missouri River bottomland wins County support
Current Flooding -
Water Quality-
  • Satellite images of sediment concentrations in Gulf of Mexico waters - Spring flooding 2011 (from NASA)
  • EPA releases new online training module on Water Quality Standards re: encouraging & facilitating public involvement
In the States -
  • MN project looks to revitalize Spring Lake,  Lower Vermillion River & Mississippi River pool 3 &
  • NY Times: No End in Sight as Minnesotans Grapple With State Shutdown
  • Minnesota political niceness turns nasty as state government shuts down for 2nd time in 6 years
  • MN government doesn’t know how much state shutdown is costing because people who would calculate are out of work
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency calls for major reductions of nutrients in Elk River watershed
  • Aquatic Toxicology Lab Director: presence of  estrogen-like chemicals in MN rivers & lakes is "concern, not alarm"
  • Sewer District hopes to save stormwater
  • KY groups identify 1000s of alleged Clean Water Act violations by coal companies in first 3 months of 2011
  • EPA: Coal Ash Ponds at Alliant Energy Corporation in Burlington, IA meet safety standards
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Team of scientists: No additional study is necessary; Split Mississippi River, Great Lakes to stop invasive species
  • Senate confirms Ashe as new Fish & Wildlife Service Director
  • Asian Carp -- the "Kudzu Fish" of the Mississippi River
  • Sen. Brown (R-MA) introduces bill to strengthen/improve US fisheries monitoring (referred to Commerce Committee)
  • A problem downstream on the Mississippi: Asian carp problem could hit home (MN) soon
Federal Budget -
  • Sen. Budget Committee chair Conrad (D-ND) plans on releasing Senate's 2012 budget resolution this week
  • Senate Dems rally around Budget Committee Chair Conrad's (D-ND) Senate budget plan concepts
  • President Obama announces budget-deficit summit for this Thursday at White House &
  • Bipartisan policy group offers analysis "to shed light on operation of debt limit in case Congress does not raise limit"
  • House Appropriations Committee FY 2012 Interior-Environment spending bill released cuts EPA 18% & Interior 7%
  • House Friday will begin consideration of its Energy & Water Appropriations Act; re: DOE & Army Corps funding
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • Satellite images of sediment concentrations in Gulf of Mexico waters - Spring flooding 2011 (from NASA)
  • Army Corps unveils long-awaited $446 million plan to rebuild LA Delta Caminada shoreline & Shell Island
  • Editorial: Corps of Engineers' delays are harmful to Louisiana coastal restoration & region
  • Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) introduces bill to reauthorize National Estuary Program
  • Louisiana estuarine oysters may survive Mississippi River flooding after all
  • Obama administration objects to House energy & water bill that de-funds LA coastal restoration construction funding
  • Presentations from NAS Web conference on "Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters" July 6
  • The Horinko Group Annual Water Resources Summit, October 25; 9 AM-5 PM, U of MD at College Park
e-Newsletters and Journals -
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network's latest (July 6) e-newsletter available here:
  • Theme of July 2011 Journ of Sustainable Human Development ("Mother Pelican"): What is Sustainable Human Development?
  • Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (of invasive species) July e-newsletter issued (PDF):
Other news-
  • Survey of aquatic ecosystem managers: Public outreach crucial for ecosystem management
  • Office of Management & Budget releases annual report on costs/benefits of major federal regulations over last 10 years
  • Rural tourism summit set for 16 Louisiana parishes & 17 Mississippi counties along & near Mississippi River
  • PBS: Very illustrative interactive aerial images: Minot ND (NOT Mississippi basin) before & during recent flooding
  • USFS: Forest mortality from insects tripled over past decade in lower 48 US states
  • National Weather Service: Record SC US drought to persist/intensify (including parts of Lower Mississippi Basin)
  • Sen. Landrieu [D-LA] introduces bill to study LA's Lower Mississippi River area's inclusion in National Park System
Political Scene -
  • Republicans for Environmental Protection names Rep. Johnson (R-IL) Greenest Republican in Congress in annual scorecard
  • Op-ed: “112th Congress is one of the least productive in years”
  • Wisconsin State Sen. Lasee (R) strongly considering a run for open US Senate seat now held by Herb Kohl (D)
  • The Daily Beast looks at the 10 biggest campaign fibs so far in the run-up to the 2012 elections Tammy Duckworth, former assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs, to run for IL-8th US House seat
  • House leaders tell members that House will likely be in session through scheduled July recess "district work week"
Last Word -
"I thought that we would vote on a lot more bills." - Freshman U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in answering the question of what surprises her most about serving in Congress's upper chamber.

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