Friday, August 3, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

NOAA Scientists Measure Small Gulf Hypoxic Zone; Link Size Reduction to Drought Conditions
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's ("NOAA's") National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (or NCCOS) announced on July 27 that its scientists had observed the fourth smallest hypoxic or oxygen-free zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico since record-keeping began in 1985. Drought conditions in the country's midsection are largely believed to have directly resulted in the "dead zone's" smaller than average size (2,889 square miles).  Read more related articles under "Water Quality," below, and in this earlier blog article.

Showcase, Short-term Farm Disaster Aid Package Passes House - Going Nowhere Fast 
While the worst U.S. drought in 56 years intensified, late yesterday afternoon, House Republicans pushed through a largely showcase, short-term $383 million package of loans and grants for livestock producers and a limited number of farmers. The House disaster relief bill (HR 6233) focuses on providing loans and grants to producers of livestock and fruit trees impacted by the drought during the current (2012) Fiscal Year, and would pay for its $383 million price tag by capping the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program during Fiscal Year 2013. While the bill will give farm state House Republicans political cover when they go home to face drought-stricken farmers, the prospects for its consideration by the Senate are slim and its likelihood of enactment into law effectively non-existent. To read details of the House bill, its prospects, and its relation to the comprehensive farm bill, see this article.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week
  • Drought intensifies in most-parched areas of U.S.
  • Worst US drought in 56 years intensified over the past week
  • USDA designates 98 Illinois counties disaster areas; no drought relief predicted through October
  • USDA's addition of 218 counties yesterday means >half of all US counties are designated disaster areas
  • Where Things Stand - Drought, Heat, Crop Futures and Groceries
  • Drought and soaring temperatures are leading to unprecedented warmth in U.S. Midwest lakes, streams and rivers
  • South-central US likely to see triple-digit heat throughout this weekend and into first full week of August
  • About 2/3 of Nebraska now in extreme to exceptional drought; a week ago number was 5%; Iowa goes from 0 to 25%
  • First significant rainfall in more than a month drops about a half-inch across most of Iowa; state still "parched"
  • Scientists warn it’s the "new norm" after worst drought in 800 years
Federal Policy
Farm Bill-
  • Heritage Action for America op-ed urges breaking massive farm bill "into manageable, understandable pieces"
  • Ag Committee Chair Lucas "riding herd" on GOP effort to produce House Farm Bill
  • Iowa Congressmen urge quick vote on the farm bill:
  • Rep. Braley (D-IA) will seek to force House vote on five-year Farm Bill package using "discharge petition" process
  • Dan Glickman and Jim Moseley Op-ed: Decades of farmland conservation gains at risk
Agriculture -
  • Church, social service foster urban farming in Des Moines, Iowa
  • U of WI researchers & companies receive $7M fed grant to evaluate ethanol production from cow manure; Manitowoc Co, WI
  • Global grains powerhouse Cargill urges U.S. government to temporarily curb its ethanol quotas as corn supply drops
  • No-Till Travels Better than a Farm Bill Extension (via @ChrisClaytonDTN)
  • MN Supreme Court reverses appeals court decision: says drifting pesticides from farm don't constitute trespassing
  • Environmental groups question EPA on withdrawal of livestock information-gathering rule
Water Quality -
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, etc.) -
  • Army Corps warns of dredging on falling Mississippi River and tributaries without a permit
  • Awards "roll in" for Greater New Orleans Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System (PDF file)
  • Over prolonged period, water consumption in Minneapolis and St. Paul (MN) has been declining steeply and steadily
  • Army Corps will continue to release water from upstream KS reservoirs to provide navigation support on Missouri River
  • Missouri River drought impacts diluted by releasing northern reservoir water reserves, while Mississippi River hit hard
  • Des Moines Water Works ended July with record high water usage amid historic drought and water conservation plan
  • Army Corps of Engineers presents plans for West Bank (LA) wetland restoration projects to mitigate levee-caused losses
In the States -
  • New WV appeals board decision is demanding tougher mining permit reviews and tightening water quality limits
  • MO DNR to hold public meeting on permitting for coal ash landfill at Ameren Missouri's Rush Island power plant
Forestry -
  • USDA Blog: Secretary's Column: Managing our Forests to Drive Job Growth
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Army Corps: no action should be taken on $2.9B Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet restoration plan because LA won't pay 35%
  • Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign's "Delta Dispatches" July 30 issue
Resource Extraction -
  • Appellate court rules for towns in PA fracking suit; overturns key parts of state's new natural gas development law
  • Nationwide Insurance announces it won't offer coverage for property damage caused by hydraulic fracturing
  • WI business group urges Mining Association not to discuss mining bill with Dems/environmentalists until after election
  • WI iron mining areas extend into Mississippi River Basin; map here:
  • IL DNR denies permit for 600-acre coal mine in Illinois River floodplain and near town and wildlife area
Federal Budget -
  • Volunteers pluck trash from low Cedar River during 25th Annual River Cleanup
  • Pathways to Success conference: Integrating Human Dimensions into Fish & Wildlife Management; Breckenridge, CO; 9/24-27
  • Upper Mississippi River Basin Association meetings scheduled for August 28-30; La Crosse, WI (open to public)
  • NRC meeting on Levees & the National Flood Insurance Program: Improving Policies & Practices; August 15; St. Louis, MO
  • Celebrate National Farmers Market Week! — August 5-11
  • 32nd International Symposium of the North American Lake Management Society; Nov 7-9 Madison, WI
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • American Farmland Trust's July e-newsletter, including MN and WI farm conservation coverage
  • Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign's "Delta Dispatches" July 30 issue
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network July 31 e-newsletter with special nutrients and fracking coverage
  • From the Council for Agricultural Science & Technology: "Water & Land Issues Associated with Animal Agriculture: A U.S. Perspective" abstract; free download:
Other news-
  • "Heat in the Heartland: 60 Years of Warming in the Midwest" looks at five major Midwest urban areas
  • Senators introduce revised version of legislation to preempt U.S. EPA regulation of coal ash disposal
Political Scene -
  • Poll finds Sen. McCaskill (D-MO) down in Missouri's US Senate race; trailing all 3 possible GOP opponents
  • Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY-4) resigns from Congress, effective immediately
  • Former WI Governor Thompson locked in a three-way fight for Wisconsin’s GOP US Senate nomination
  • August primaries can end careers of some US Reps; possibles include Akin, Clay, Carnahan (MO); Black (TN)
  • Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN-3) wins U.S. House seat primary in redrawn Tennessee district
Last Word -
"Like its politicians and war, society has the teenagers it deserves." - Joseph Priestley, who, on August 1, 1774, "discovered" oxygen, after conducting his most famous oxygen-generating experiment (heating mercuric oxide in an inverted glass container).  He isolated an "air" that appeared to be completely new, and called his discovery "dephlogisticated air."

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