Friday, August 31, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week - Blue Moon Edition

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

FEMA to Assess Impact of Proposed National Flood Insurance Program Changes 
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced its intention to prepare a "Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement" (PEIS) on its proposed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) modifications. Here is the Federal Register notice on the PEIS, including notice of an opportunity for public comment (through October 9). The Notice of Intent for this PEIS was originally published in the May 16, 2012 Federal Register, and that comment period closed on July 16. 

In 1968, the U.S. Congress created the NFIP to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves from flood-related damages. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding. The changes being considered by FEMA under would result in modification of the NFIP in the following specific areas:
  1. Elevation standards for new construction would be increased 
  2. Floodplain management standards for critical facilities would be changed 
  3. Restrictions on floodway development would be strengthened 
  4. Future conditions and residual risk in floodplain management would be integrated 
  5. Fill in floodplains would be discouraged, and 
  6. The impacts of floodplain development on the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains to include endangered and threatened species would be taken into account. 
For more information, follow this link.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Latest USDA Drought Monitor Map
(click to see larger version)
  • Extreme and exceptional drought conditions eased slightly in KS, OK, IA, SE NE, and IL over past week
  • New York Times interactive set of graphics regarding the U.S. drought "Drought Extends; Crops Wither"
  • Could Tropical Storm Isaac actually help break US drought?
  • Rainfall of Hurricane Isaac remnants welcomed, but unlikely to break drought gripping U.S. Midwest
  • Isaac will lessen drought impacts, but only in some places
  • Drought-weary farmers are concerned they could end up getting too much of a good thing with Isaac rainfall
  • After a blistering summer, Illinois begins a slow crawl out of drought
  • Residential wells are running dry for people who live outside municipal water districts in drought stricken Midwest
  • Effects of drought reach New Orleans, as Topical Storm Isaac could add insult to injury
  • Rain comes too late for Iowa's corn crop as drought weighs on Midwest minds
  • U.S. bioethanol production will fall by 10% in coming year, as drought spikes corn prices
  • 85 year-old Dust Bowl survivor sees parallels to heat  but not hardship in today's US drought
  • USDA projects that U.S. farmers will make record profit amid worst drought in more than five decades
  • Kansas farmers preparing to plant winter wheat into driest soil since 1991after three seasons of drought
Federal Policy
  • Federal drought measures not enough for small-scale farmers being pushed out of only line of work they’ve ever known
  • Drought rallies critics of federal renewable fuel standard, which reserves ~40% of US corn crop for ethanol production
  • USDA announces 2-month extension for emergency grazing on Conservation Reserve Program acres (drought relief)
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Gulf Coast levees stronger, floodwalls higher and residents and cities better prepared since Hurricane Katrina
  • Tropical Storm Isaac update: New Orleans levees hold; Obama OKs more aid; Authorities plan intentional levee breach
  • Tropical Strom Isaac wreaks havoc in Baton Rouge, poses flood threat to region
  • New Orleans defenses strained as Hurricane Isaac pounds Gulf coast
  • Mississippi coastal towns' measures taken after Katrina help with Hurricane Isaac pounding
  • Hurricane Isaac weakens but still threatens major flooding and
  • Residents rescued from Hurricane Isaac flooding in Louisiana's Plaquemines Parish
  • USGS reported Mississippi River flowed backwards due to Isaac for nearly 24 hours Tuesday.
  • Isaac moves inland as residents blame upgraded levees for flooding
Farm Bill-
  • FAPRI report comparing House Committee and Senate farm bill versions updated with an accounting correction
  • If there is no agreement on farm bill next month, most likely Congress will pass short-term extension of current law
  • "Farm Bill Now" coalition has grown to 46 agricultural groups; speaks at Farm Progress Show
  • Former USDA Secretary: odds are Congress won’t pass Farm Bill before September 30; will probably pass an extension
  • 44 organizations send letter to Senate and House Ag Committee leaders urging Farm Bill passage; policy changes
Agriculture -
  • UN Food and Agriculture Organization: need to transform way water is used and wasted throughout entire food chain
  • USDA ERS: Median total farm household income increased by 5.4% in 2011; expected to increase 1.2% in 2012
  • Two-edge sword: Hurricane Isaac will damage crops; delay harvests yet aid farmland with the water
  • New USDA study shows wind erosion control is greatest Missouri River Basin conservation need (also see link below)
  • USDA-NRCS releases CEAP-Cropland report on effects of Missouri River Basin cropland conservation practices
Water Quality -
  • Inconclusive tests hint that Oak Ridge radioactive waste may be moving under Clinch River (TN)
  • Federal District Court rules Tennessee Valley Authority liable in 2008 coal ash slurry spill
  • Proceedings of Royal Society of London paper: target phosphorous in fight against blue-green algal blooms and
  • Local government officials; utility leaders ask Congress to invest in clean water projects; provide flexibility
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • FEMA intends to prepare Environmental Impact Statement on proposed National Flood Insurance Program modifications (PDF)
  • Vermont's flood-prone Mad River Valley has emerged as a laboratory for federal, state and regional floodway planning
  • Industrial water in high demand in North Dakota with yearly sales estimated at between $45 - 120 million
  • Army Corps of Engineers examining alternatives to fixing an Ohio River levee it considers among most precarious
  • South Dakota criticizes proposed Army Corps charges for Missouri River water taken from six basin reservoirs
  • Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station researcher: Sustainable farming controls water flow
  • Logjam of Mississippi River barges caused by drought is worsening after New Orleans terminal Hurricane Issac closures
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Wisconsin native freshwater mussels at risk from soaring temperatures; below average rainfall; shrinking lakes/rivers
Resource Extraction -
  • Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (OH) approves land access to two drilling companies for fracking
  • U.S. Forest Service to allow hydraulic fracturing in southeastern Ohio national forest
  • Frac-sand mining companies in Wisconsin form new trade group in face of mounting mining opposition
  • Happy "World Water Week!" Have a cup of H2O and say "Cheers!"
  • Announcing National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration 2013 Call for Abstracts (due November 1)
  • Association for Study of Literature & Environment invites Conference proposals (May 28-June 1, 2013, Lawrence, KS
  • Webinar: Water Quality Report Cards-Assessments made accessible, the Massachusetts experience; 9/12; 11 AM EDT
  • ‘Farm Bill Now’ rally hosted by agricultural organizations, September 12, 11 AM EDT, Washington, D.C.
  • 10th Biennial Conference on Environmental Psychology; September 22-25, 2013; Magdeburg, Germany
  • 2013 Ohio Stormwater Conference (May 8-10, 2013) call for abstracts (deadline November 1)
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • August 24 issue of "Delta Dispatches" now available, with latest Gulf of Mexico Coastal restoration news
Other news-
  • Study: avid climate change deniers tend to be either extreme free marketeers or conspiracy theorists
  • American Meteorological Society: Humans are "dominant cause" of climate change
Political Scene -
  • Senate race poll: Rep. Akin (R-MO) favorability rating 17% positive; 56% negative; trails Sen. McCaskill (D-MO) by 9%
  • Rob Wallace (D) and Markwayne Mullin (R) win primaries; to face off in OK 2nd US House district race
  • Hurricane Isaac Gulf Coast disaster relief spending could spark Congressional debate; enter into presidential race
Last Word -
"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small." - Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong, first human to walk on the Moon

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