Friday, October 18, 2013

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News of the Week

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Shutdown Ends But Budget Negotiations Continue; Amendment Authorizes Ohio River Locks and Dam Funding
Late Wednesday night Congress approved and the President signed a budget agreement that ends a 16-day government shutdown and allows the government to borrow money through February 7, 2014 (PDF file version of the bill can be found here).  Known as the "Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014," the bill passed 81-18 in the Senate and 285-144 in the House, with all of the "no" votes coming from Republicans.  The measure funds the government at Fiscal Year 2103 levels through January 15 and authorizes back pay for furloughed federal workers.  It also forms a conference committee tasked to work out a long-term budget agreement and avoid across-the-board "sequestration" cuts scheduled to take place on January 1.

Olmsted Lock and Dam in 2012
From a Mississippi River Basin perspective, the bill also includes a $2 billion increase in the construction funding authorization for an Ohio River Army Corps of Engineers project; an amendment reportedly engineered by Kentucky Republican Senator Mitch McConnell that adds funds to complete a river navigation structure known as the Olmsted lock and dam in Illinois and Kentucky. That amendment raises the amount authorized for the Army Corps of Engineers' Olmsted Lock and Dam project to $2.9 billion from $775 million. 

To read more budget settlement and Olmsted project details, you can see our summary article, here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • U of MN study: cutting phosphorus in lakes reduces algae, but can lead to unintended nitrogen increases
  • Comments accepted by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on draft Minnesota Nutrient Reduction Strategy through Dec 18
  • Seven more Kentucky lakes believed to have excessive toxic algae but officials haven't identified them yet
  • Nebraska environment quality agency says flooded Platte River no longer a public health risk
  • Over 50 WV and PA property owners sue FirstEnergy over groundwater pollution blamed on coal ash impoundment, pipeline
  • PA DEP: 160+ problems with plan to close Little Blue Run coal ash pond on Pennsylvania-West Virginia border
  • Environmental regulators in Ohio want to set limits on algal-feeding pollution in state's streams and lakes
  • Ohio seeks to set limits on phosphorus in streams
  • Iowa Environmental Protection Commission won’t require numerical standards for nutrients in lakes and
  • Researchers report that Central Illinois river otters are exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls  and pesticides
  • Wisconsin Public Radio: Minnesota’s water monitoring system may be more extensive and comprehensive than Wisconsin’s
  • Industry concerned that EPA draft study of small waters' clean water act jurisdiction determination includes groundwater
  • Three federal appeals courts set to consider whether EPA Clean Water Act waterbody jurisdiction determinations are reviewable
  • Critics accelerate push to limit EPA's authority to override Army Corps' permits
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • House will bring Water Resources Reform and Development Act bill to boost U.S. ports and waterways to floor next week
  • House Republicans plan to follow up vote to end the government shutdown with a water resources bill vote next week
  • T and I Committee Chairman Shuster says House will take up water resources bill next week
  • New York Times: Sharp increases in federal flood insurance rates are distressing homeowners nationwide
  • Group accuses Sen. McConnell (R-KY) of putting 'Kentucky Kickback' lock and dam spending authority into debt bill
  • Beleaguered Ohio River locks and dam become headache for McConnell
  • Water project advocates defend inclusion of an increase in funding for Ohio River dam project in Kentucky
Farm Bill-
  • A full House-Senate farm bill conference could begin the last week of October
  • Lawmakers turn attention once more to plowing ahead on farm bill
  • House of Representatives appoints members to farm bill conference committee. 17 GOP: 12 Dems:
  • Many see farm bill as one of the only major measures that could be approved by divided Congress during 2013
  • The Hill’s Floor Action Blog: “The House on Friday voted to go to conference with the Senate on a farm bill"
  • House votes down two motions to instruct House conferees when they meet with Senate to negotiate final farm bill
  • National Farmers Union letter to members of farm bill conference committee outlines NFU final bill priorities (PDF file)
  • American Farm Bureau Federation lays out farm bill priorities for House-Senate conferees about to begin negotiations
  • Editorial: Heritage Foundation comparison of House and Senate farm bills, with that organization's recommendations
Agriculture -
  • Ag Professional editorial: more fertilizer, nutrient management regulations likely coming for US ag retailers
  • Early blizzard has ravaged South Dakota's livestock industry
  • Weed-resistance experts warn that herbicide-resistant weeds aggressively taking hold in many areas
Climate and Weather
October 15 Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
  • Heavy to excessive Midwest and Plains precipitation prompts another round of broad-scale drought improvements
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • USGS researches use of biological weapons for targeted control of Asian carp
  • Cottonwood trees that once dominated forests along the Missouri River are in danger of disappearing
  • Ducks Unlimited restoring and enhancing several tracts along the Platte River in Nebraska
In the Cities -
  • Mississippi River mayors and Delta Regional Authority announce agreement at Mississippi River economic summit
  • Mississippi River mayors call on Congress to increase funding for infrastructure improvements, dredging
  • Mississippi River mayors present river developments at Memphis economic summit
  • Mayors of towns and cities along the Mississippi River recently hold summit to discuss river based economy and safety
  • Mississippi River mayors pitch container traffic, more in Memphis meeting
  • Mayors from Mississippi River cities meet on ways to grow the economy along the river, and prepare, plan for flooding
  • Natchez Mayor Brown talks Mississippi River economics, River Delta at Memphis meetings
  • St. Cloud, MN mayor attending Memphis conference of mayors on Mississippi River cities' economic progress
  • Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger attends Mississippi River community economic summit
Other News
  • Lakeland, MN will allow St. Croix River house that breaks setback rule over Minnesota DNR objections
  • Local Lakeland zoning change could test Minnesota's ability to regulate development along the scenic St. Croix River
  • Construction begins on Wisconsin River riverfront restoration and redevelopment in Wausau
  • Project to create green space along Mississippi River in Davenport awarded $300,000 state grant
  • Mississippi River levee bicycle and pedestrian path opens in Algiers Point, La.
In the States-
  • States say federal government shutdown is forcing them to furlough staff, scale back key environmental programs
  • Jon Hagler abruptly replaced as director of Missouri's agriculture agency
Resource Extraction -
  • Environmental groups appeal ruling allowing Peabody Energy to operate Indiana coal mine they contend fouls waterways
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources writing new rules for construction of lagoons that hold fracking water
Federal Budget -
  • Congress votes to end shutdown and raise debt ceiling, both on a short term basis
  • EPA and other environmental agencies will need time to resume their lapsed activities after shutdown hiatus
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Republicans: "Top Ten Reasons The Government Shutdown Isn't All Bad"
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Oct 18 10:55–11:55 AM ET: The World Food Prize: leaders in sustainable agriculture speak in panel streamed live at:
  • Platte River ecosystem will be focus of Crane Trust's second annual research symposium; Oct 18; Wood River, NE
  • Webinar: The Wetland Institute Big Bureau Creek wetland and water quality trading markets project; Oct 22; 1 PM CT
  • New Mississippi River book- "Old Man River;" Meet the author at 1 Mississippi Campaign's Barge Bash Party Oct 28, Grafton, IL
  • Webinar to help local governments reduce flooding, sewer overflows using green stormwater infrastructure; October 31, 2:30 PM
  • 2013 World Wildlife Fund Fuller Science for Nature Symposium; November 13, National Geographic Society, Washington, DC
  • Ohio Stormwater Conference - Call for Abstracts Now Open; June 4-6, 2014; Akron, Ohio
  • Pathways Conference: Common Futures, Integrating Human Dimensions into Fish and Wildlife Management, Estes Park, CO, Oct 5-9, 2014
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • E-newsletter from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, October, 2013
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Watershed Network News-October 17, news on cover crops, nutrient management plan
Other news-
Politics and People -
  • Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) seeks to position himself in the center as he runs for Iowa’'s open Senate seat
  • 14-candidate field from both sides of aisle battle for two spots in Oct 19 Louisiana 5th House district runoff election
  • New poll numbers are in for three key Mississippi River Basin states' U.S.  Senate races of the 2014 cycle: AR, LA and WV
  • Democrat Amar Kaleka will try to unseat GOP Rep. Paul Ryan in 2014 (Wisconsin 1st Congressional District)
  • Mississippi state Sen. McDaniel announces plans to challenge six-term US Sen. Thad Cochran in 2014 GOP primary
Last Word-
Jumping Asian Carp
"Fish are doing things here that they haven't in their native distribution, which frankly scares me." -- Dr. Reuben Goforth, Purdue University assistant professor, while discussing his recent studies of Asian carp in Indiana's Wabash River

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