Friday, August 23, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Opening Word  - "Slow"
 Garrison Keillor and cast during a
live 2007 production of
A Prairie Home Companion 
"It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon," a person of note hailing from Anoka, Minnesota often relates.  And so, too, in Washington, DC.  That's not news.  August, in particular, is often quiet in the Nation's Capital, when both the Senate and House typically adjourn for their summer recess.

Some news has trickled back into town about Congressional field hearings, and member town hall meetings, or visits to farm shows, farmer's markets, county fairs and the like, particularly in the country's mid-section.   For example, all but one Congressperson on the “top 10 tally of members of Congress with the most town halls scheduled this month” represent Mississippi River Basin districts or states.   And U.S. Senator and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow is reported to have rubbed a freshly picked hop in her hands on Tuesday during a farm tour.  But otherwise, things are Congressionally mellow.

Mellow is not necessarily a bad thing.  The August lull allows extra time to meet with Congressional staffers who are often incredibly busy during other times of the year.  It also provides an opportunity for some pre-dawn research; such as delving into the etymology of the word, "slow."  And as a public service, here it is: The adjective, slow, comes from the Old English slaw "inactive, sluggish," also "not clever," from Proto-Germanic *slæwaz (cf. Old Saxon sleu "blunt, dull," Middle Dutch slee, Dutch sleeuw "sour, tart, blunt," Old High German sleo "blunt, dull," Old Norse sljor, Danish sløv, Swedish slö "blunt, dull"). The meaning "taking a long time" is attested from the early thirteenth century. The meaning "dull, tedious" is from 1841.  "Slowpoke" was first recorded 1848.  And the verb, slow, is derived from the Old English slawian, from the same source of slow, the adjective; while modern use may be a sixteenth century re-formation.  Related: Slowed; slowing.

Congress continues its summer recess until September 9, when both the Senate and House are set to reconvene.  So the next couple of weeks, legislatively, should prove to be - in a word - slow.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study of Mississippi River water quality begins with fish data
  • Iowa, USEPA near deal over how Iowa regulates 8,000 livestock operations under the Clean Water Act
  • Environmentalists urge USEPA Administrator to take a hard line toward Iowa's livestock permitting program
  • Iowa environmental groups push for clean water quality standard
  • Public comment period open through Sept. 17, on proposed changes to Minnesota Nonpoint Source Management Program Plan
  • Environmental concerns remain over Illinois coal-ash ponds next to the Middle Fork River and
  • Illinois EPA detected higher than acceptable levels of crop herbicide atrazine in lake source of Macomb water supply in 2012 and
  • Jury awards $5.1 million to clean up water, land in Cow Island, La., tick-dipping area
  • Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Administrator says Illinois River (OK) condition improving thanks to interstate cooperation
  • Optical sensor technology being used by USGS in Mississippi River basin to more accurately track nitrate water pollution
  • EPA set to issue strict new ammonia water quality criteria, provides some flexibilities sought by wastewater sector
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Army Corps hears about St. Johns Bayou-New Madrid Floodway Project from local officials
  • Senate port maintenance bill would would replace Harbor Maintenance Tax with Maritime Goods Movement User Fee
  • Mississippi River navigation advocacy group says River deepening would have broad Louisiana economic benefits
  • Upgraded metro New Orleans levees designed to greatly reduce flooding, even in 500-year storms
  • Capital Journal op-ed (Pierre, SD): "Corps oversteps itself on surplus Missouri River water issue"
  • U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO-6) to talk about Army Corps' management of Missouri River at St. Joseph meeting (see related articles, below)
  • Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association testifies at Congressional field hearing re: Missouri River Management
  • Farmers emphasize value of levees, inland waterways at field hearing on Missouri River management
  • Study: Coastal flood exposure and costs increasing due to growing populations and assets, climate change, subsidence
  • Task force urges White House CEQ to craft methods for quantifying the benefits of “green” water infrastructure
  • U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-2-OK): Arkansas River locks in poor shape
Farm Bill- 
  • DTN Ag Policy Blog contains an overview of the differences between the Senate and House farm bill commodity titles
  • House Ag Committee Chair: three things affecting production agriculture short to long term: Weather, Farm Bill, Trade
Agriculture - 
Click to Enlarge
  • Long reach of last summer's U.S. drought reverses corn commodity flow direction on Mississippi River
  • EPA Administrator stresses need for farmers and government agencies to work together on environmental issues
  • USDA proposes changes in NRCS National Handbook of Conservation Practices (open for public review and comment)
  • Graphic of the week: “Farm Program and Nutrition Spending as Share of Federal Budget, Selected Years”
Climate and Weather -  
  • U.S. Drought Monitor: Moderate drought returned to parts of Corn Belt last week and
    August 20 Drought Monitor Map
    (click to enlarge)
  • Government Accountability Office: federal government must improve how it addresses the effects of climate change
  • Past two months see Iowa pivot from wettest spring on record to abnormally dry summer
  • Weather less favorable for crops, large areas of Plains, Midwest received less than average rain over last 30-60 days
  • Illinois Corn Marketing Board says 2012 drought-induced low Mississippi River cost farmers 45 cents/bushel of corn
  • Arkansas River Basin headwaters hit hard by multi-year drought
  • GOP House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders plan major climate change hearing; 13 agencies to testify
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Army Corps and Fish and Wildlife Service to coordinate to better protect three Mississippi River endangered species
  • Rare American eel discovered in central Indiana's White River
  • Interior Department says that Keystone XL pipeline project could could have long-term, damaging effects on wildlife
  • House Republicans call for greater sage-grouse Endangered Species Act field hearings in Montana and North Dakota
  • Along with some list removals, Minnesota adds 180 species to its threatened species' list
  • Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officials report at least 122 nesting Bald Eagle pairs in state, up from 56 five years ago
  • Asian carp carcass found on Mississippi River dam abutment (north of Winona, MN) and
In the Cities -
  • Major, two-year Houma, Louisiana, project to upgrade sewer pipes making progress
  • Quincy, IL Mayor Kyle Moore attends Mississippi River Commission public meeting; signs Memorandum of Common Purpose
  • Mississippi River mayors sign memorandum of common purpose with the Mississippi River Commission
In the States-
  • Wisconsin Looking for Feedback on Draft Strategy to Cut Nutrient Pollution in Surface Waters
Predicted Land Change over
Next 50 years (click to enlarge)
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Federal-state panel releases final plan for spending BP oil spill money to restore Gulf Coast ecosystems, economies
  • New Orleans levee authority to consider placing 45-day pause on lawsuit against oil, gas and pipeline companies
  • Effort to recreate Mississippi River natural flows to save Louisiana delta sparks controversy over possible outcomes
  • Insurance institute says Louisiana has weakened its building code systems in wake of historic tropical storms
  • Forest Service will soon finalize rule to accelerate environmental reviews for water and soil restoration projects
  • US Forest Service Chief orders agency to halt spending on restoration programs, other items to fight wildfires
Resource Extraction -
  • Resources for the Future: Managing the Risks of Shale Gas: Key Findings and Further Research (PDF file)
  • In Wisconsin, county commissioner is accused of self-dealing over frac sand mining
  • Minnesota agencies roll out website regarding the mining, transportation and processing of silica (frac) sand
Federal Budget -
  • Congressional approval of continuing resolution to maintain EPA funding into fiscal year 2014 may be best, and most likely, outcome
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar
  • Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council public meeting August 28, 1:00 PM CDT to vote on Initial Comprehensive Plan
  • Webinar: Water Quality Standards and the new Triennial Standards Review Process September 4, 9 am CDT
  • Army Corps of Engineers' National Great Rivers Museum to celebrate its 10th anniversary this fall (Oct 11-12)
  • St. Croix River Association plans fall activities
  • WERF webinar: objectives and progress on development of Agricultural BMP Database; September 17, 2:00 to 3:30 pm ET
  • RALLY 2013: Bonnet Carré Spillway, New Orleans, La. marshland grass planting; Sept. 20 9 AM; volunteer signup, details:
  • Webinar: Engaging non-operator agricultural landowners in conservation Aug. 29, 2-3 PM EDT
e-Newsletters, Publications and Journals -
Other news-
  • Missouri Coalition for the Environment sues Army Corps over failure to release public records on pipeline project
  • Department of Interior Landscape
    Conservation Regions
  • Washington Post opinion piece: “Ethanol mandates creating an economic car-wreck”
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center signs memorandum of understanding with Mississippi River Commission
  • Department of Interior Landscape Conservation Cooperatives launch new website
  • Army Corps archaeologists study Missouri River's past
  • Good lunchtime reading: "Storytellers Who Know Science, Scientists Who Tell Stories" via @RiverLifeUMN
Political Scene -
  • Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey announces hiring of former Monsanto lobbyist Mike Naig as deputy secretary
  • League of Conservation Voters accused of misusing Rep. Davis (R-13-IL) quote so he appears to be extreme climate-change-denier
  • Ohio EPA's Water Division Director says he was forced out by Ohio Gov. John Kasich Administration
  • Political unknown Dirk Adams says he’ll run against fellow Democrat Max Baucus’ (D-MT) for his US Senate seat
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) picks up a 2014 Senate race primary opponent: Republican conservative Joe Carr
  • Ken Buck (R) announces he'll run against Mark Udall (D-CO) in 2014 US Senate race
  • Polls show tight race for Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) US Senate re-election in Louisiana . . . or not
Last Word
It may slip into October, but we will get it done." Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), speaking of the farm bill at the Kalamazoo, Michigan Farmers Market on Tuesday. 

"Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away" - Singer-songwriter Paul Simon

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