Friday, June 7, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program Authorized by State
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has signed legislation authorizing and funding the state’s new agricultural water quality certification program. Under the new program, agricultural producers who implement a significant degree of conservation practices to reduce nutrient run-off and erosion will receive assurance (or "certainty") from Minnesota that their farms will meet the state's water quality standards and goals throughout the ten-year duration of a certainty agreement between the state and producer.  This first-in-the-nation program resulted from a state-federal collaborative effort among the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Minnesota's Pollution Control Agency, Department of Agriculture, Board of Water and Soil Resources, and Department of Natural Resources.  The program is being administered by the state Department of Agriculture, which is developing program operational measures and identifying four watersheds that will be used to roll-out the program on a pilot scale. The Obama Administration has been exploring a variety of certainty mechanisms in conjunction with several states for some time, and the Minnesota initiative could be viewed as one component of a wider Administration action plan, announced in January 2012, to address challenges facing ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources.  You can read more details regarding the program on this Minnesota web site, and in this blog article.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • EPA greatly narrowing geographic scope of activities to address water pollution from livestock operations (more CAFO news under "Agriculture")
  • EPA looking to bridge Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act gaps to better protect source waters
  • Sanitary sewer system operators pushing controversial bill to allow wastewater treatment bypass during heavy rains
  • EPA willing to allow municipal green infrastructure use, integrated stormwater planning to reduce sewer overflows
  • Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy has been completed; now available; news: and strategy site:
  • Recent Iowa floods have washed fertilizer off farms and into rivers providing drinking water to much of state
  • Gulf of Mexico ‘Dead Zone’ May Be Larger Than Usual This Year
  • NOAA and National Ocean Service: Spring floods may increase 2013 Gulf of Mexico "dead zone"
  • Kentucky Waterways Alliance is celebrating 20 years of working for clean water in Kentucky this week
  • Minnesota Dept. of Health revised trichloroethylene health-based guidance prompts re-look at Metro area contamination
  • Environmental advocates say EPA coal ash settlement points to many more Missouri coal ash-related water contamination sites
  • Beckley Sanitary Board receives environmental excellence award from WV DEP for its stormwater work
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair hopes Water Resources Development Act is on House floor before August recess
  • At hearing: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee eyes streamlined WRDA; Army Corps seeks more funding
  • EPA establishes new "Watershed Assessment and Rapid Response Team" to aid pressed wetlands regulatory program
  • Center for Neighborhood Technology issues new report, finding that "Urban flooding is chronic and costly, but not correlated with floodplains"
  • FEMA releases 2013 National Preparedness Report; summarizes efforts; makes key findings; addresses flood mitigation
  • Corps of Engineers completes two major levee setbacks; other projects in wake of historic 2011 Missouri River flooding
  • Army Corps plans summer release of stalled St. Johns Bayou-New Madrid Floodway Project environmental impact statement
  • House amendment to Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act freezes flood insurance rates for one year
Farm Bill-
2012 Farm Bill Direct Payments by Zip Code
Click to Enlarge
  • The strong Farm Bill showing in the Senate Thursday now puts added pressure on the House to move ahead quickly
  • Senate busy on two major bills that will test House GOP leadership abilities: farm and immigration
  • Senate will wrap up its Farm Bill debate on Monday with two 5:30 PM votes: one on an amendment; one on bill, itself
  • Washington Post editorial: Congress may fail to pass farm bill over House-Senate food stamp cut differences
  • U.S. map graphic illustrates locations of recipients of government’s farm bill ‘direct payments’ program
  • Washington Post: Congress set to kill farm subsidy program yet still doles almost $5 billion/year through farm bill
  • House, Senate Farm Bills Seek To Limit EPA Regulation Of Agriculture
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition analysis comparing Senate and House farm bill funding on variety of issues
  • Op-ed: "Message to Congress: Stop Messing With Conservation Budgets"
  • House members introduce conservation-corp insurance bill similar to language in Senate Agriculture Committee mark of farm bill
Agriculture -
  • Newly introduced House bill would link crop insurance subsidies and conservation
  • Reps. Thompson (D-CA-5) and Fortenberry (R-NE-1) introduce Crop Insurance Accountability Act of 2013 (press release: - news article immediately above and one under Farm Bill
  • Millions of farm subsidy dollars for irrigation aimed to conserve water have led to more water use, not less
  • Drought, wildfires spur USDA climate adaptation initiatives; USDA release: news article:
  • As huge livestock farms have boomed in US the last 30 years, federal environmental regulators have failed to keep up
  • Farm-state senators question EPA's handling of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) data release
  • Letter from bipartisan group of farm-state Senators presses EPA for answers on CAFO data release (PDF file of letter)
  • New study predicts rising irrigation costs, reduced yields for US corn
  • Farmers scramble to sow final stages of corn and soybean crops
  • Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program passed by State Legislature and signed into law
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture removing regulatory procedure that it believes delays rural  grant and loan benefits
Climate and Weather -
June 4 Drought Monitor Map
Click to Enlarge
  • U.S. Drought Monitor: Midwest largely drought-free now; Plains states show some areas improving, some much drier
  • Federal, state and local leaders say New Orleans area is well-prepared for 2013 hurricane season
  • National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office for Central Illinois: “Spring 2013: One of the Wettest on Record”
  • Iowa has received the most spring rainfall since record-keeping began 141 years ago; crop planting slows as a result
  • Spring rain may save Iowa from summer drought
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tells nation’s farmers they need to brace for climate change and adapt
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Groups request Congressional Asian carp oversight hearing; permanent Great Lakes; Mississippi River system separation
  • Illinois Governor supports multi-billion dollar proposal to separate Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins
  • Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) echoes call for Mississippi River Basin-Great Lakes separation to stem Asian carp invasion
  • House Democrats decry vilification of "sue-and-settle tactics" by GOP, business; calling criticism a "scare tactic"
  • Company plans to build processing plant, export Mississippi River Basin Asian carp
In the Cities -
  • Minneapolis tops Trust for Public Land's 2013 ParkScore® national index of 50 largest cities and their park systems
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Gulf Oil Spill Commission Co-Chairs' op-ed: progress on plan for restoring Gulf of Mexico unacceptably slow
  • Senate committee to examine status of Gulf restoration efforts three years after 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster (post-hearing coverage in article below)
  • Proponents of ecosystem restoration push at Senate hearing to assure RESTORE money is spent on Gulf restoration
  • Coastal panelists say rising sea levels, stronger storms will be a threat through end of century
Resource Extraction -
  • National Research Council panel members highlight need for improved fracking health and ecosystem effects data
  • Illinois bill to permit and regulate hydraulic fracturing passes Legislature and heads for Gov. Pat Quinn approval
  • Illinois DNR must adopt new ‘fracking’ rules and hire experts before high-volume oil drilling begins in the state
  • Detailed state fracking law splits Illinois: Needed economic development or potential environmental nightmare?
  • University of Tennessee and environmental groups continue to battle over fracking on U of TN forest research land
  • Upswing in Tennessee fracking puts supporters and environmental groups at odds
  • Op-ed: Obama administration proposed hydraulic fracturing (fracking) rules on public lands put water supplies at risk
  • Kentucky land agents prepare to secure easements for new interstate gas liquids pipeline across northern state tier
  • Frac sand mine approved in Winona County, MN, with 40 conditions; Opponents fear mining will now expand
  • Wisconsin needs more field inspectors to ensure regulatory compliance as frac sand  industry accelerates
  • Drillers silence private property owner "fracking" complaints across the US with sealed settlement agreements
Federal Budget -
  • House Appropriations subcommittee approves 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill (bill found here; sends to full committee (article:
  • Veto threat foreshadows fall budget standoff, as White House takes stand against GOP sequester plans and budget cuts
  • White House warning: President Obama will veto any 2014 spending bills based on the House GOP budget
  • House and Senate are on separate tracks to write fiscal year 2014 spending bills; making compromise unlikely
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Attend Kentucky Waterways Alliance 20-year anniversary gala; Glenview, KY; June 8; 6:30 PM.  Details:
  • National Roundtable on Water Quality Trading; July 18; Hilton Netherland Plaza, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Aquatic Invasive Species webinar series: The Science Behind Aquatic Invasive Plants; June 18, 1 PM EDT
  • National Research Council July 16-17 meeting on assessing environmental and other effects of US food system; Washington, DC
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • EPA releases “A Quick Guide to Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters” - PDF available at:
  • Kentucky Waterways Alliance May 2013 eNewsletter
  • June 4 "Water Headlines" from USEPA Office of Water
  • BALMM "Currents" Basin Alliance for the Lower Mississippi in Minnesota June e-newsletter
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's June 4 and archived WaterWays e-newsletter links here:
  • St. Croix River Association June 5 e-newsletter lists events and volunteer opportunities
  • Volume 7 of the USGS Cooperative Water Program - Quarterly Highlights, June 2013
Other news-
  • Director of the Missouri River Institute at University of South Dakota, takes us on a video Missouri River tour
  • Environmentalists expected to back 3 Obama nominees to serve on U.S. Court of Appeals despite some troubling rulings
  • Nonprofit conservationist Andrew McElwaine to become president of the American Farmland Trust in early July
  • Arkansas rice farmer and 30-year volunteer to head Ducks Unlimited
  • EPA Survey Shows $384 Billion Needed for Drinking Water Infrastructure by 2030
Political Scene -
  • Jason Smith (R) easily wins Missouri 8 District House special election; vows to reduce federal regulations; spending
  • 10 things to know about Jason Smith (R), who won Tuesday special election for MO 8th district US House seat:
  • Democrats see farm bill, rural voters as key to 2014 election
  • Hotel magnate Jim Graves (D) drops bid for Minnesota’s 6th District seat after Rep. Bachmann announces retirement
  • Former state Rep. Emmer (R) expected to seek GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (MN-6) US House seat
  • WV Democrats optimistic about chances of replacing retiring Sen. Rockefeller with another pro-coal Democratic Senator
  • Republican Erika Harold to face freshman US Rep. Rodney Davis for GOP IL-13 Congressional District nomination
  • Stephen Colbert’s “Better know a district” segment looks at Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional district and Rep. Mark Pocan (D)

Last Word -
"Kindergarten's out in most of the rest of the country except in the U.S. Senate, and it's still in session here, and we ought to be disgusted by ourselves." - Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Tuesday on the U.S. Senate floor, after he attempted to bring up nine farm bill amendments and each time was blocked by objections made Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) (or by Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) on behalf of Landrieu).

1 comment:

  1. We must conserve the resources for our future . This can only happen if we apply limitations on our over consumption of resources .

    Bruce Hammerson

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