Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week - Early Holiday Edition

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Missouri River Flow Reduction Places Army Corps Under Increased Scrutiny
Mississippi River Navigation
Obstructions near Thebes, IL that the
Army Corps plans to remove
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to reduce the flow of Missouri River water at Lewis and Clark Lake (Gavins Point Dam) in South Dakota toward the end of this week from the current 36,500 cubic feet per second to around 12,000 cubic feet per second over the course of several days.  The flow reduction places at risk the normal movement of barge traffic on the Mississippi River downstream of its confluence with the Missouri River, since  Mississippi River water levels are already low as a result of the persistent drought in the country's mid-section, and the Missouri River currently is adding about 60% of the water flow to the Mississippi where the two rivers meet (The November 19 Mississippi River flow at St. Louis, Missouri was recorded at 79,200 cubic feet per second, while the Missouri River flow near its mouth was 48.500 cubic feet per second.).  Ironically, the Army Corps' plans have placed it under increased scrutiny by the barge industry, the public and elected officials at a time when the Corps' ability to thoroughly evaluate its management of the complex Missouri River system has been restricted.  To read more details of the planned reduction, why it's happening, what else the Army Corps is doing related to the issue, and what Federal policy comes into play when Missouri River system decisions like this are made, see our analysis here.  And you can also read regional news coverage on this topic under the "Water Resource Management" section, below.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • USEPA releases "Coal-Tar Sealcoat, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, and Stormwater Pollution" publication on website
  • EPA announces water quality coordination efforts with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • EPA restores eight water bodies to, removes one from Missouri’s list of impaired waters; 258 impaired waters total
  • Minnesota River's dissolved oxygen levels can support fish and other aquatic life, according to low flow testing
  • Nature: Researchers begin to compile effects that human medications in water seem to be  having on freshwater fish
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Army Corps moving forward with its plans to reduce flow on Missouri River
  • 15 senators from 8 Mississippi River states urge Army Corps to take steps to keep Mississippi River barges moving
  • Senators want Corps to abandon plans to slow Missouri River flow
  • Barge industry warns of far-reaching economic losses if Mississippi River water levels continue to drop
  • Persistent upper Midwest drought threatens Mississippi River barge traffic
Click to Enlarge
  • Middle-US drought shows no sign of abating this winter, throwing into doubt 2013 spring planting season
  • Nebraska officials: farmers along Republican River may have to limit water use more next year due to dry conditions
  • Watch a NOAA 12-week animated map of the changing extent of the U.S. drought here:
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: 90% chance 2012 will be U.S. warmest on record
  • 138 Iowa college and university scientists call on state to fight climate change before the next drought or flood
  • Drought and Midwest-Great Lakes water scare gets attention of agribusiness giant Archers Daniels Midland
Farm Bill-
  • Farm bill being viewed more and more as partial solution to federal debt and budget crisis
  • Prospects for a Farm Bill passing during the lame duck session remain tenuous, as speculation trumps actual progress
Agriculture -
  • EPA rejects requests by governors of major livestock-producing states to waive federal corn-ethanol mandates
  • New USDA Economic Research Service report: “Potential Farm-Level Effects of Eliminating Direct Payments”
  • Purdue University agricultural economist: U.S. remains world’s corn export leader, although "its empire is shrinking"
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture awards more than $15.7 million in funding to 189 advanced biofuel developers
  • Despite drought, US farmers having their most-profitable year ever because of record- high prices; insurance claims
In the States -
  • Draft Iowa report expected to detail plans on reducing farm pollution and sewage treatment runoff draws criticism
  • Iowa releases Nutrient Reduction Strategy criticized as too ag-friendly; sidestepping question on Farm Bureau role
  • Changes made to Iowa draft plan to control surface water runoff pollution; public has until January 4 to comment
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Mississippi River mouth is migrating north, offering both risks and coastal restoration and navigation opportunities
  • Wall Street Journal quick guide to the details of the BP - U.S. Government Gulf of Mexico oil spill settlement
  • Christian Science Monitor: BP fined $4.5B in Gulf oil spill. "Is it enough?" "Is legal saga over?"
  • What Mississippi River and Gulf Coast stakeholders are saying about BP settlement of oil spill criminal charges
  • BP Gulf oil spill settlement a boon to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • Gulf Coast town of Dauphin Island, Alabama is a monument to federal government generosity in face of repeated storms
Resource Extraction -
  • Political obstacles to oil and gas fracking start to fade as public and politicians jump on the energy boom bandwagon
Federal Budget -
  • Various scenarios are possible as Congress and White House look for solutions to looming fiscal cliff problem
  • Rough start for fiscal cliff talks, as Democrats balk at GOP’s first offer in closed door negotiations
  • Free EPA Watershed Academy Webinar: “How’s My Waterway? and Other Water Quality Apps" Nov. 28, 1-3pm EST
  • Big River Lives Leadership Forum convened by  America's Wetland Foundation; December 6, 9 AM-5 PM CST, St. Louis, MO
  • EPA Webcast: Sustainability Considerations Incorporation into Water-Wastewater Alternative Analysis; 12/13, 2-3 PM ET
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • The Horinko Group's November "sustainabulletin" is available on line
  • November 20 "Delta Dispatches" issue reports on efforts to restore the Mississippi River Delta
  • Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee Fall newsletter (PDF file)
Other news-
  • World Bank issues climate change report: "Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C warmer world must be avoided"
  • Industry and environmental groups disagree on strategies to improve EPA's chemical risk assessment program
Political Scene -
  • Democrat Rick Nolan is returning to Congress as US Representative from Minnesota after 32-year Hill absence
  • U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee seat is on the wish-list for North Dakota Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp (D)
  • New state capitol superpower in Great Plains and South, where bulging Republican super majorities were voted in
Last Word
Adam Sandler's Saturday Night Live homage to Thanksgiving, “The Thanksgiving Song”

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