Thursday, March 28, 2013

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

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

National Rivers and Streams Assessment Draft Report Released for Comment
Biological Conditions by Ecoregion
(Click to Enlarge)
The U.S. EPA Office of Water's Assessment and Watershed Protection Division on Monday (March 25) released its draft report of the National Rivers and Streams Assessment 2008-2009 (NRSA) for public review during a 45-day comment period. The NRSA report describes the results of the nationwide survey of river and stream conditions that was conducted during the summers of 2008 and 2009, and also describes  survey methods, and future actions and challenges.  This is the first time a  national monitoring study of the overall condition of rivers and streams has been conducted using a statistically-valid random sample approach.   55% of U.S. river and stream miles do not support healthy biological communities when compared to least disturbed areas.  In the Mississippi River Basin, the Upper Midwest, Southern Appalachian and Coastal Plain ecoregions fared worse than the national average.  Of the stressors examined during the survey, phosphorus and nitrogen are the most ubiquitous, and biological communities were seen to be at increased risk when  phosphorus and nitrogen levels were observed to be high.  Links to and discussion of related information can be found here.

White House Releases Updated Principles and Guidelines for Water Resources Projects - Immediate Fate Uncertain
Last Friday (March 22), the Obama Administration's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released an updated version of the Principles and Guidelines (or "P&G") designed to "govern how Federal agencies evaluate proposed water resource development projects." The P&G, which have long been anticipated by the nation's water resource stakeholders, include a final set of Principles and Requirements that according to the CEQ lay out "broad principles to guide water investments, as well as draft Interagency Guidelines for implementing the Principles & Requirements." The Guidelines outline the "detailed methodology for conducting implementation studies under the new Principles and Requirements," according to the CEQ announcement. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft Interagency Guidelines beginning on Wednesday, March 27 during a 60-day comment period. The schedule for implementing the revised Principles and Standards in not at all certain, however, due in part to a rider added at the last minute to the 2012 Fiscal Year federal appropriations bill that was effectively extended by the recently passed (Fiscal Year 2013) continuing resolution. The rider would block the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing P&G updates.  Links to both the draft P&G and Interagency Guidelines can be found under the "Resources" section of this CEQ web page.  For more discussion on the impact of the P&G, the currently-open public comment period, and the uncertain fate of the P&G implementation, see this article.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week
Water Quality -
  • Groups criticize West Virginia DEP emergency rule that weakens water quality limits for aluminum
  • EPA revises West Virginia report on impaired streams after state left over 1000 miles of polluted waterways off list
  • EPA proposes adding 255 more waterways to West Virginia’s list of "impaired waters"
  • Delta Farm Press article: nurient pollution lawsuit vs USEPA is environmentalist "attack" on "Mid-South agriculture"
  • Target Corp. signs agreement with Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MN) to work on stormwater runoff reduction
  • Wyandotte County and Kansas City, KS agree to address unauthorized raw sewage overflows and reduce stormwater pollution
  • Evansville, 9 other Indiana cities, under consent decree with Environmental Protection Agency to deal with stormwater
  • Activists protest Iowa proposal said to make it easier for livestock operators to avoid water pollution oversight
  • MN Pollution Control Agency posts 100+ comments received on draft South Metro Mississippi River Turbidity Impairment
  • Debate continues on whether fracking wastes should be barged down the Ohio River, as company awaits approval
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Mississippi River in Arkansas "a little more spry" following winter's snow and rain
  • Washington Post - World Water Day: A forceful reminder that the U.S. is running out of fresh water
  • White House Council on Environmental Quality releases revised Principles and Guidelines for federal water projects
  • Army Corps of Engineers: Missouri River flow above its navigable portion will be 81 percent of average in 2013
  • Saint Joseph News-Press editorial: Common sense needed in the Missouri River’s management
  • New system to restore wetlands could reduce massive floods, aid crops
  • Vicksburg, Mississippi officials watching newly redesigned Mississippi River bank structures during rainy weather
  • Forbes article previewed: inland waterways "barge business has become a ward of government largesse"
  • Tennessee governor rejects Georgia effort to access Tennessee River water
  • $234 million to be spent on over 100 projects along Missouri River to stabilize Army Corps' dams and levees system
  • Reps. Rodney Davis and Bill Enyart meet with America’s Central Port officials to share Mississippi River concerns
Agriculture -
  • Oregon State Univ. engineers develop new interactive system to create networks of small Midwest farmland wetlands
  • Executive summary available for 2012 Leadership for Midwestern Watersheds meeting on  farmer engagement, targeting conservation, scaling watershed lessons
  • Will farm planting get off to a slow start with cooler than average Midwest tempertures?
  • Who holds Congress' attention these days when it comes to farm policy: Big agriculture?
  • Dept of Energy awards $925,000 to Southern Research Institute to further develop turning biomass into bio-oils
  • Is the farmland price bubble poised to burst?
  • Farm land auction prices in 2011-flood-impacted Nebraska about half what they were before the flooding
  • US corn supplies shrink at fastest pace in almost 40 years as ethanol demand drains reserves
  • USDA announces several senior level staff changes
Climate and Weather -
March 26 U.S. Drought Monitor Map
(Click to Enlarge)
  • Midwest drought impact eases a bit; Plains remain locked in dryness
  • NOAA forecast: Historic U.S. drought that laid waste to grain and corn belt is unlikely to ease before mid-year
  • EPA National Water Program publishes 2012 Highlights of Progress: Responses to Climate Change
  • Agriculture and climate experts say drought conditions may deteriorate more rapidly this year than last
  • Dry, cold western Midwest spring gives the term "extreme" a workout; drought persists; cold puts planting on hold
In the States -
  • Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality told to improve public notification of pending permits
In the Cities -
  • Declining Midwestern cities: Where do we go from here to remain sustainable and efficient?
  • Design to begin of New Orleans port's new Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal Project
  • Green Infrastructure passes Kansas City, MO test, as City official says stormwater solutions made economic sense
  • Permeable Streets Plan for 17 block area of Charles City, IA results in reduced flooding and requests for duplication
  • Mayor Greg Fischer makes changes to and finalizes his "Sustain Louisville" (KY) plan
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Public donations to Wisconsin's endangered resources program is at ten-year low and dropping
  • In search of a control, finding a market for millions of pounds of invasive Mississippi River Asian carp is not easy
  • New proposals floated to permanently fund fight against invasive aquatic species in Minnesota
  • U.S. sees land conservation as a way to help animals and plants adapt to climate change
  • Umbrella strategy released Tuesday to protect U.S. fish, wildlife and plants from climate change impacts
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • New La State U database aggregates world’s storm surge information Gulf Coast news article:
  • New study: Extreme storm events of Hurricane Katrina magnitude will occur more frequently because of climate change
Resource Extraction -
  • Some environmental groups harshly critical of new partnership aiming to create new fracking standards
  • Illinois fracking bill drafted with help of environmental; industry groups delayed over union-backed hiring amendment
  • EPA announces formation of new panel to peer-review agency’s hydraulic fracturing research
  • Large-scale frac sand mining operations could kick off soon in South Dakota, if mining companies get their way
  • Frac sand development provides Minnesota jobs, but state lawmakers caution against too rapid growth
  • Study Confirms: Largest Oklahoma Earthquake Linked to Oil Extraction Wastewater
Federal Budget -
  • U.S. Senate passes its 1st budget in four years on 50-49 vote  (now on to unlikely reconciliation with House version)
  • Reconciling the House and Senate-passed budget plans is probably impossible, and neither will be put into effect
  • Senate's fiscal year 2014 spending bill provides detailed spending road map for US science agencies; summaries here:
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar on this Blog page and here as a stand-alone calendar.
  • Waters of Wisconsin Day; April 9, noon-8 PM CDT; Madison, Wisconsin and via live webcast
  • 2013 Missouri River Institute Research Symposium; April 4; 9 AM-4:30 PM, University of South Dakota, Vermillion
  • Mississippi River Commission posts notice of its upcoming lower Mississippi River public meetings: April 8-12 (PDF)
  • Free Webcast on newly-released “Draft National Rivers and Streams Assessment 2008-2009” April 3, 1-3 pm EDT
  • Illinois RiverWatch Citizen Scientist Program training workshops for new and trained volunteers; late March - April
  • St. Charles, MO Missouri River Clean-up set for April 6; 9 AM - noon
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • The Horinko Group March Newsletter focuses on Mississippi River lock and dam system; water infrastructure
  • St. Croix River Association March 22 e-newsletter
  • US EPA's March issue of Watershed News is now on-line
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's March 25 WaterWays e-newsletter link here
  • Weekly Newsletter from EPA's Office of Water: Water Headlines for March 26
Other news-
  • Mississippi River "Rivers for Change" paddling trip leads to more trips tying recreation with environmental education
  • Hennepin County (MN) Board of Commissioners is seeking applicants for a vacancy on the Lower Minnesota River Watershed District Board
  • Kentucky environmental agency denies pending landfill permit for coal ash storage near Ohio River in Trimble County
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and USDA-NRCS announce new Conservation Partners Program grant round
  • Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway mixes built and natural resources into a national treasure
  • New congressional caucus and mayoral initiative put focus on Mississippi River
  • McKnight Foundation awards multiple grants to organizations working for a sustainable Mississippi River
  • IL Governor says Sister Rivers/Lakes agreements with overseas partners is way to discuss common challenges; concerns
Political Scene -
  • U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) to retire, lifting GOP hopes in battle for Senate seat
  • Ashley Judd decides against US Senate (Kentucky) run
Last Word -
"Always look on the bright side of life." - Sung in Monty Python's "Life of Brian" by Eric Idle, who celebrates his birthday this Friday. And for the musically inclined, here is an audio-visual version of the Last Word from Sir Eric, sung at Royal Albert Hall with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus (from his "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life Sing-Along").

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