Friday, May 3, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Up Next
Next week may see the release of a Senate farm bill and it's mark-up in the Senate Agriculture Committee, while on the House side, all signs continue to point to a May 15 Agriculture Committee farm bill mark up (see related articles below under "Farm Bill").  News regarding scheduling of Congressional activity on the Water Resources Development Act has been scarce, with the last indication being Senate Majority Leader Reid's (D-NV) desire to move it through the Senate before it leaves town on May 27 for the Memorial Day recess.  To see an overview of Mississippi River Basin-relevant Congressional committee activity scheduled for next week, follow this link.

New North American Asian Carp Distribution Maps Released
Bighead Carp
Late last month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Geological Survey released new maps depicting "Asian Carp Distribution in North America" for bighead carp and silver carp. The maps display current information on the presence of those invasive Asian carp species at all of their life stages in the Mississippi River, Ohio River and Great Lakes.

Briefing Highlights Lessons Learned from Ongoing Agriculture Conservation Projects
Project Locations (click to enlarge)
On April 26, a North Carolina State University researcher briefed Congressional staff, and policy and agriculture professionals on the results of a synthesis and multi-year evaluation of the effects of cropland and pastureland conservation practices on spatial and temporal trends in water quality at the watershed scale.  The briefing summarized findings first released last November, concurrent with the publication of "Synthesis Report: CEAP-NIFA Competitive Grant Watershed Studies" (link to the report and related resources here).  To see a summary of the briefing and study findings, you can follow this link.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week
Water Quality -
  • EPA approves Iowa DNR’s 2012 list of impaired waters under the Clean Water Act (removes 73; adds 78 water bodies)
  • 12 SE Wisconsin municipalities released nearly 53 million gallons of sewage into streams in April via sewer overflows
  • EPA's Clean Water Act Section 319 Program "Success Spotlight" on Choteau Creek in South Dakota re: sediment loading
  • Aquatic Dead Zones: Pollution and mismanagement strain the ecosystems of the world’s ocean and freshwater bodies
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • New Center for American Progress report: Hurricanes, floods, droughts put increasingly large strain on federal budget 
  • Army Corps re-opens closed Mississippi River Lock 24 near Clarksville; Lock 25 near Winfield (Missouri) 
  • Vitter-Boxer WRDA (water resources development act) bill drawing opposition after unanimous committee approval 
  • Senate EPW Committee Chair Boxer at odds with some environmental groups over WRDA project approval "streamlining" 
  • U.S. Reps. Loebsack and Braley talk about need to upgrade Mississippi River lock and dams at public meeting 
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers publishes "Flood Insurance Affordability: Recommendations for NFIP Reform" 
  • KC Business Journal: "Missouri River could become a maritime highway" 
  • U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) calls for reevaluation of Lake Michigan to Mississippi basin water diversion pact 
  • Rising Mississippi River prompts Army Corps to activate its flood-fighting program: added levee inspections and restrictions 
  • TNC's new Floodplains by Design video "illustrates ways of harnessing these ecosystems for humans and wildlife" 
  • Forecasters predict minor to moderate central and eastern Missouri flooding as heavy rains cause Missouri River rise 
  • Mississippi River crests not expected to cause Louisiana and Mississippi flooding
  • Army Corps closes three Mississippi River locks in Twin Cities area to recreational boats due to high flows
  • Iowa corn, soybean farmers express concern about recent Army Corps of Engineers projects on Missouri River
Farm Bill-
  • Here's a nicely detailed article on the farm bill and its possible Congressional fate from
  • Conservation groups send farm bill proposal to Congress; seeking to stem agriculture's habitat, water quality effects
  • House Agriculture Committee Chair plans farm bill that cuts $38 billion over 10 years; $3B more than last year's bill
  • Rep. Owens (D-NY): House farm bill committee action May 15; expects few committee changes but many floor challenges
  • Sen. Grassley (R-IA) hints at Senate Agriculture Committee farm bill mark up next week; shooting for $23 billion in savings
  • Senate Ag Committee member Hoeven: committee farm bill markup next week or the following one; May Senate floor action
  • US Sen. Kirk (R-IL) on farm bill: Dem bill will pass Senate; fail in House. GOP bill will pass House; fail in Senate
Agriculture -
  • Drought helped drive the cost of crop insurance to a record $US17.2 billion in 2012
  • In the past two years Conservation Reserve Program acres nationally saw a 4.2 million-acre decline
  • Capitol Hill briefing highlights lessons learned from an evaluation of ongoing agriculture conservation projects
  • New 25x’25 Alliance’s Adaptation Work Group report released on agriculture, forestry, and climate change adaptation
  • Sequestration pushes USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service's 23 conservation programs toward "breaking point"
  • Judge denies restraining order against developers of large South Dakota hog confinement operation
  • New USDA Economic Research Service report: “The Role of Conservation Programs in Drought Risk Adaptation"
  • USDA announces $4 million plan to increase use of federal food credits at farmers markets
Click to Enlarge
Climate and Weather -
  • Rains last week relieve central US drought; dry weather, temperature contrasts exacerbate central High Plains drought 
  • Nebraska lawmakers pass bill supporting report that would project climate change impacts on state's water and farms 
  • All Eyes on the Keeling Curve: Scientists anxious as CO2 levels are posed to cross the 400 ppm threshold 
  • Slow moving storm system expected to stall over Illinois bringing prolonged rainfall to central, southeast Illinois 
  • ORNL analysis predicts U.S. losses from extreme weather damage could double by 2050 
In the States -
  • MinnPost has launched an on-line Minnesota legislation tracker web app
In the Cities -
  • City of Woodbury, MN finds new use for stormwater: Irrigate golf courses
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Bald Eagles continue comeback along northern Mississippi River
  • Army Corps, IL DNR, USGS Release New North America Asian Carp Distribution Maps
  • Dept. of Interior to decide fate of 10 species by 2018 under terms of settlement (includes Big Sandy Crayfish in KY, WV)
  • New Dutch study: world's most widely used insecticide is devastating dragonflies, snails, other water-based species
  • USDA & EPA release findings of 3-day conference on bee colony collapse disorder; no single factor causes bee deaths
  • Interior Department sends three draft rules regarding threatened and endangered species to White House for review
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • CNN: Empty nets in Louisiana three years after BP oil spill
  • LSU study: Damaged minnow shows BP oil seeping into coastal food chain
  • BP will pay $340 million for early 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill restoration projects
  • Environmental groups, politicians and BP itself have released statements in favor of BP Gulf restoration payment
Resource Extraction -
  • Police arrested 35 people for trespassing Monday during a protest of frac sand mining in Winona, Minnesota
  • Interior Secretary Jewell: Federal fracking rules coming "in weeks"
Federal Budget -
  • Sequester threatens funding for 100s of stream gauges used by USGS to predict, monitor flood levels across US
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (found here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • WWF Fuller Seminar: The Alarming Science Behind Climate Change’s Increasingly Wild Weather; Washington, DC June 6
  • Save the date: 2014 biannual Conference on Ecosystem & Ecological Restoration; July 28-August 1; New Orleans, LA
  • "Great River Rumble" annual canoe, kayak trip, July 27 - August 3 on St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's April 29 and archived WaterWays e-newsletter links here:
  • Weekly "Water Headlines" Newsletter from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers latest monthly "News and Views" (PDF file)
  • May Newsletter of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and National Climate Assessment (PDF file)
Other news-
  • Sens. Vitter (R-LA) and Inhofe (R-OK) demand transparency from EPA on relationships with environmental groups
  • From Mississippi River Basin, MN, WI and IL make top ten of most bicycle-friendly U.S. states; ND ranks last
Political Scene -
  • Headline du jour: "A House in Chaos"
  • GOP Sen. Grassley aide David Young considering Senate bid for retiring Democratic Sen. Harkin's Iowa seat
  • Upcoming Sen. Baucus retirement could land Sen. Landrieu (D-LA) coveted Chair of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
  • Decision by GOP Rep. Aaron Schock not to run for Illinois Governor clears path for wealthy businessman Bruce Rauner
  • West Virginia Democrats still seeking candidate to challenge GOP Rep. Capito for retiring Sen. Rockefeller's (D) seat
Niccolò Machiavelli
Last Word -
"Politics have no relation to morals." - Niccolo Machiavelli, who was born on this date in 1469.

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