Friday, January 13, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

Federal Draft Ocean and Coastal Implementation Plan Includes Mississippi River Basin Actions
On January 12 the White House's National Ocean Council released for public comment, a draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan, touted by the Council as "an action plan to address the most pressing challenges facing ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources." The draft Implementation Plan details more than 50 Federal actions to be taken to "improve the health of the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes," including several actions which relate explicitly in the Plan to reducing the impacts of point and non-point sources of nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River Basin. For each action, the Plan outlines key milestones, identifies responsible Federal agencies, and sets an anticipated time frame for completion. Major actions specifically related in the Plan to the Mississippi River Basin include (1) Improving water quality by reducing the impacts of trash, marine debris, and sources of excess nutrients, sediments, pollutants, and pathogens; and (2) Minimizing impacts of hypoxia.  To read more Mississippi River Basin-related details and link to the draft Plan and on-line public comment portal, see here.

EPA Advisory Committee Completes Water Quality-Agriculture Report

EPA's Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee completed a significant Water Quality-Agriculture report in December, and submitted that report to the EPA on January 5.  The 85-page report advises the agency on how to best focus its efforts in protecting and improving water quality with respect to impacts from agricultural practices.  The report suggests how to most effectively manage the nation's water quality issues and how best to improve water quality across the country, as they relate to agricultural production. It also offers specific recommendations for (1) increasing support for certainty programs, (2) increasing stewardship, and (3) coordinating resource allocation and use with the USDA, with land grant universities and with the agricultural sector.  For a more complete review and links to the full report and transmittal letter see here.

2012 Water Protection Network Annual Meeting to Have a Mississippi River Basin Focus
The Water Protection Network has announced plans to hold its 2012 Membership Meeting along the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri from March 18-20.  The meeting theme will be "Working With Nature to Protect Communities,"  and will include a field trip to the nearby Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site, workshops on becoming a more effective advocate for water protection projects and permits, and a panel discussion on the 2011 Mississippi and Missouri River floods. For more details and links to meeting and sponsorship information, read our blog story here.

“Our Upper Mississippi River: Connection, Inspiration, Transformation” Essay Contest Announced
Prairie Rivers Network in collaboration with 1Mississippi have invited interested persons to enter their “Our Upper Mississippi River: Connection, Inspiration, Transformation” Essay Contest. Written submissions can be made on line between now and the March 16 deadline. Further instructions and details can be found here.

Applicants Sought for Mississippi River Policy Manager Position
The Biodiversity Project and Mississippi River Network (MRN) seek applicants for a Mississippi River Policy Manager position to be located either in the Chicago, Illinois area (near the Biodiversity Project office) or elsewhere at a location near the Mississippi River.  According to the position announcement, "The Policy Manager will provide key analysis and proactive policy development in issues relating to the restoration and conservation of the Mississippi River, analyze proposed legislative or administrative changes to Federal policy and law related to the River, educate members of MRN, the public, and the media on such policies and proposals, and cultivate support for those policies and proposals among policymakers and other stakeholder organizations." Details are available here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Agriculture -
  • USDA announces agency-wide program/office cuts in "Blueprint for Stronger Service to Increase Efficiency"
  • USDA plans to close 249 offices this year; half of them local county offices that deal directly with farmers
  • Satellites show groundwater levels dropping fast in stretches of US & globally in past 9 years; farm withdrawal blamed
  • Sioux County, Iowa is "ground zero" for nation's farm boom
  • EPA Farm Ranch & Rural Communities Comm completes agriculture & water quality report; news rpt
  • University of WI-Madison economist: atrazine use helps farmers reduce aggregate soil erosion by up to 85 M tons/yr
  • WI Dept of Agriculture: many WI landowners not requesting Farmland Preservation tax credits they’re entitled to receive
Farm Bill-
  • Congress could slash US farm subsidies far more than expected, perhaps 2x that proposed just 2 months ago
  • Economist provides explanation of Farm Bureau’s Systemic Risk Reduction Program farm bill proposal
  • American Farm Bureau Federation Congressional Relations Director gives 50-50 odds on getting new farm bill done in 2012
  • Environmental Working Group: "Farm Bill is a Climate Bill” & climate change activists should be concerned over cuts
  • Members of American Farm Bureau Federation vote to rewrite much of group’s farm programs policy
  • Farm Bureau will continue to press Congress for some form of protection against catastrophic revenue losses
  • Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND) doesn't see a farm bill being passed before the 2012 general election
Water Quality -
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
  • Argument For Chicago waterway changes strengthened by Army Corps commercial shipping study results
  • NY Times: Along Mississippi River in MO, rebuilding Birds Point levee after 2011 spring flooding
  • Army Corps seeks to assure public that underground drainage canals won't worsen Hollygrove, LA flooding
In the States -
  • Towns look to stop OH EPA from imposing new limits on wastewater discharged into Mahoning River (Ohio River basin)
  • WI Wetlands Association op-ed: State's "wetlands legislation goes too far; everyone will pay the price"
  • AR DEQ will ask EPA to allow more time to study Crooked Creek problems, over concerns about meeting TMDL requirements
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • MN DNR launches new prevention efforts in 2012 to slow spread of aquatic invasive species
  • All Minnesota boats will face DNR roadside checks for aquatic invasive species
  • National Great Rivers Museum Brings "Masters of the Sky" to Alton, IL [along Mississippi]
Gulf Coastal Area-
  • Louisiana officials release 50 billion, 50-yr plan to rebuild coastal land; increase protection from storm surge
Resource extraction -
  • Natural gas and oil boom spurs sand mining (for fracking) in Midwest
  • In Illinois, along Illinois River, it's come down to "Starved Rock State Park versus sand mining"
  • WV lawmakers unlikely to revisit Marcellus shale issues in 2012 despite notable absence of issue resolution
Fedral Budget -
  • Obama set to reprise 2012 tax & deficit-reduction proposals in FY 2013 Budget Proposal (goes to Congress on Feb. 6)
  • Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Assoc. Workshop; June 12-13; Lowell, MA (abstract deadline Feb 15)
  • 8th National Monitoring Conference (National Water Quality Monitoring Council) April 30-May 4, Portland, OR
  • River Rally 2012 sponsored by River Network & Waterkeeper Alliance; May 4-7, Portland, OR
  • EPA workshops on Achieving Water Quality thru Integrated Municipal Storm & Wastewater Plans under Clean Water Act
  • 2012 North American River Management Society Symposium; April 24 - 26, Asheville, NC
  • 2012 Water Protection Network Annual Meeting to have a Mississippi River Basin focus
  • Assoc of State Wetland Managers' State/Tribal/Federal Coordination Mtg; March 13-15, Shepherdstown, WV
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • The Horinko Group's monthly newsletter is now on line, with news of a new Mississippi River Corridor staff person
  • Soil and Water Conservation Society's, January 12 Conservation News Brief:
Other news-
Political Scene -
  • NE Attorney General defending himself from charges he funneled $100,000 grant to farm group to help US Senate run
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) believes that he will face a recall election this June
  • Arduous KY GOP primary ahead for any ambitious GOP candidates vying to replace retiring Rep. Davis (R-KY-4)
  • GOP businessman John Raese files to challenge US Sen. Manchin (D-WV) in rematch of 2010 Senate race
Last Word
"It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings."  - Wendell Berry

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