Friday, August 2, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Hello From Chicago . . . There's No Place Like Home
This week's "News of the Week" is being posted from the Chicago, Illinois metro region and the Fifth National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration, where the theme of the week is "The Spirit of Cooperation." It has been a week filled with thought-provoking and professionally-delivered presentations on restoration; many regarding the Mississippi River Basin. The presentation abstracts and PowerPoint slides will be available on the NCER web site soon, for those interested in mining the rich store of information presented at the conference.  In the meantime, here is a link to the "top ten" take-away lessons from this year's conference (or at least the overarching themes that I heard emerging among the hundreds of talks, panel discussions and poster-presentations). A hint to a top ten repeating theme is in the title, above.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone Measured
Bottom water dissolved oxygen
Measured July 22-28, 2013
Coastal Louisiana (click to enlarge)
  • Large 2013 Gulf of Mexico dead zone measured, but smaller than predicted - Science Daily
  • Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" large, while smaller than predicted
  • Gulf of Mexico dead zone misses forecast size; still bigger than goal size
  • NOAA-supported scientists find large Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone, but not as large as had been predicted
  • Discover Magazine: Dead Zone the Size of Connecticut Blossoms in Gulf of Mexico
  • Prairie Rivers Network: IL top state contributing to Gulf dead zone; farm bill's conservation programs and regulation needed
  • Recr8OhioRiver website and app provide Ohio River area water quality information, river conditions for Greater Cincinnati
  • The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA) editorial: Gulf Dead Zone is still big enough to warrant concern and attention
Other Water Quality News
  • Report: North Dakota coal plants haven't caused any major pollution or issues with any major state waterways
  • 230 environmental groups urge Obama Administration to toughen concentrated animal feeding operations' water quality regulations
  • Municipal wastewater dischargers' lawyers will push to use a court "blending" ruling to change other EPA policies
  • McKnight Foundation's latest blog post, "A New Story for the Mississippi," delves into the water quality-agriculture nexus
  • Proposed EPA NPDES electronic reporting rule aim is to improve data and reduce reports
  • Environmental groups threaten lawsuit to force stringent EPA fish consumption standards
  • Precautions urged as toxic algae found in fourth Kentucky lake, spread of blooms prompts officials to issue warnings
  • New Pennsylvania legislation gives municipalities the ability to form stormwater utilities
  • Federal district court in nutrient case upholds EPA's use of draft Clean Water Act criteria in crafting permit limits
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Environmentalists, Army Corps of Engineers, lawmakers differ on floodplain, Mississippi River management
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial: Lessons of the Great Flood of '93? We haven't learned them yet
  • After Mississippi River 1993 flood, Valmeyer, IL retreated to bluffs and found future as a modern, planned community
  • Steep decline in Mississippi River water level moves downriver, reaches New Orleans
  • NEPA streamlining language in Senate Water Resources Development Act version prompts stakeholders and House Committee to look for compromise
  • Louisiana senators hint in letter to Obama of Homeland Security nominee filibuster if FEMA raises flood insurance rates
  • EPA sends final cooling-water intake rule for White House review; aimed at reducing damage to aquatic organisms
  • OMB review of EPA cooling water intake rule raises questions on Endangered Species Act study (updated from last week)
  • Resources for the Future: Floodplain Conservation as a Flood Mitigation Strategy: Examining Costs and Benefits
Farm Bill-
  • Here is our most recently updated 2013 Farm Bill News and Resources page (UPDATED August 2)
  • Senate Republicans appoint their five members to farm bill conference committee
  • House Republicans plan to push $40 billion cut to food stamp program, comlicating farm bill compromise and extension possibilities
  • Conservation groups lay out farm bill conference committee suggestions in letter to House and Senate Ag Committees
  • House will not produce legislation reforming food stamps before the August recess; delaying any farm bill movement
  • Top Iowans implore Congressional leaders to resolve their differences and approve a new farm bill
  • National Cotton Council policy vice president: Three potential scenarios regarding ongoing Farm Bill debate possible
Agriculture -
  • Gene banks missing over half wild relatives of world's most important food crops; Global network to launch search
  • Soil is in trouble, even in fertile Midwest; prairie vegitation use helps reverse soil degradation, nutirent runoff
  • Environmental Working Group study: Federal insurance spurring conversion of sensitive lands to cropland; news: EWG report:
  • St. Louis Public Radio – Danforth Plant Science Center To Grow
  • Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2) hosts roundtable with Indiana farmers to address issues faced by agriculture industry
  • Company claims first-ever production of commercial quantities of ethanol from wood waste, other nonfood vegetation
July 30 U.S. Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • National Drought Mitigation Center: significant Plains and Midwest rains ease drought:
  • Senate Commerce Committee passes Drought Information Act (S. 376), reauthorizing National Integrated Drought Information System
  • One year after historic drought, farm fortunes change in U.S. Corn Belt
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Obama administration's $50 million Asian carp plan doesn't separate Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins
  • Long overdue updated Asian carp national strategy more a continuation of old measures that are partial, stopgap
  • Federal plan to prevent Asian carp from taking over Great Lakes includes major project (Eagle Marsh) in Fort Wayne, IN
  • Asian carp continue to be a major problem across Illinois
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune op-ed: Leaping fish? Why Asian carp must be stopped
  • Fish help in restoration of West Virginia freshwater mussel populations
  • Efforts help strengthen Ohio River mussel numbers following years of adverse impacts from high pollution
  • Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Biologists battling invasive plants on wildlife management areas
  • House passes bill to extend volunteer and community partnership programs at nation's wildlife refuges through 2017
In the Cities -
  • Conservation is driving up water rates in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Clarksville, Tennessee's aging combined sewers dump untreated wastewater into the Cumberland River
  • New Orleans planners, inspired by Dutch, now hope to rebuild with effective stormwater management in mind
  • Incubator will help Wichita, KS, Louisville, KY, other cities learn how to implement sustainability initiatives
  • The St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District shows off 1.7-acre St. Louis rain garden
  • Students take action to restore biodiversity and revitalize a Madison, WI community
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana coastal erosion lawsuit: Attorneys explain its chances and potential pitfalls
  • Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA-1) questions levee authority's wetland damage lawsuit against oil and pipeline firms
  • Coastal restoration (550 acres of new wetland) underway near Myrtle Grove in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana
  • Louisiana coastline west of Mississippi River added to state's impaired waters list by USEPA
  • Lacking new sediment, string of La. Gulf Coastal islands have gone from teeming with wildlife to nearly non-existent
Resource Extraction -
  • Frac sand mining splits Wisconsin communities: a job creator and source of community tension
  • US Bureau of Land Management intends to open up Ohio state forest to fracking exploration (Follow-up: Bureau of Land Management's plan to allow hydraulic fracturing in an Ohio state forest has been halted
Federal Budget
  • House Appropriations Committee votes on EPA-Interior spending bill amendments, defers further votes until September
  • Senate's EPA- Interior spending bill includes more funding and fewer riders than House's cuonterpart
  • House halts Transportation spending bill vote and implementation of the budget it adopted three months ago
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • St Paul Army Corps official to report on Mississippi River projects; La Crosse, WI August 12
    2012 St. Croix River Association 
    photo contest's top wildlife photo (Jeff Buckle)
    River Commission meeting
  • Here is the full listing of August public meetings to be held by Mississippi River Commission in River cities (PDF file)
  • Biennial Governor's Conference on Management of Illinois River System; Oct. 1-3; Peoria, IL  and
  • St. Croix River Association photo contest to capture images of St. Croix watershed (entry deadline August 16)
  • One Water Leadership Summit: Water Sustainability in a Changing Climate; September 23-26, Omni Los Angeles, CA
  • Free Webinar: A New Way of Stormwater Management; Applying Asset Management; Sept. 10; 2 PM EDT
  • Upper Mississippi River Basin Association Meetings, August 27-28; Radisson Hotel La Crosse, WI (agendas posted)
  • 9th Annual Sangamon Watershed Celebration; August 9-10; Decatur, Illinois
  • IATP Discussion Meeting: Tar sand oil pipeline to expand in Minnesota; August 8; 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.; Minneapolis, MN
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Industrial Stormwater Program mid-Summer Update
  • Green Lands Blue Waters update highlighting Continuous Living Cover on agricultural land in Mississippi River Basin
  • Water Environment Federation August Stormwater Report
  • The summer edition of the Army Corps of Engineers' "Our Mississippi" is now available on this web site:
Other news-
  • University of Illinois College of Engineering develops new way to crowd-source the design of green infrastructure
  • House field hearing in Southern Missouri showcases hostility toward suspended National Blueways program
  • The demographics of every congressional district, in one, new interactive US Census Bureau chart
  • House Energy and Commerce Chairman launches Committee exploration of renewable fuel standard modifications
  • There’s growing pressure on Congress to modify or even repeal the Renewable Fuels Standard or RFS
  • American Petroleum Institute seeks multi-year renewable fuel standard with ethanol cap to end 'Blend Wall' concerns
  • Oil sector and biofuel groups outline competing steps over how best to meet Renewable Fuel Standards' ethanol mandate
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to hold hearing on contentious Renewable Fuel Standard this fall
  • Senate appears unlikely to move a House-passed bill that would replace EPA's pending coal ash disposal rule
  • Federal Permitting Improvement Act would create infrastructure project permitting one-stop shop, agency deadlines and practices
  • New Watershed Gallery at Wabasha, MN National Eagle Center showcases beauty, diversity of life in Upper Mississippi Basin
Political Scene -
  • Matt Bevin plans to challenge US Senate GOP Leader McConnell in 2014 Kentucky primary; picks up endorsement
  • Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR-4) to announce Senate challenge against Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) in 2014 and
  • Senate Committee approves Obama nominee to become NOAA's assistant secretary for conservation and management
  • White House nominates Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Connor as the next deputy secretary of the Interior
  • EPA Office of Water nominee Kopocis, two other EPA nominees, clear Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
  • WV state Sen. Jenkins will challenge Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV-3) for his congressional seat in 2014
Last Word -
The original Cheshire Cat woodcut print
from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
"But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat, "We’re all mad here.  I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here."

- from Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," first published on August 2, 1865 ("No comparison between Washington, DC and Alice's Wonderland is either intended or implied," said the Cheshire Cat.)

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