Friday, January 10, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Save the Date! - Significant 2014 Mississippi River Basin Water Policy Dates and Deadlines
The Julian calendar has turned from 2013 to 2014, and we have prepared a chronology of nine dates and months to make note of in 2014 that may prove to be significant within the Mississippi River Basin water policy arena. You can see that listing here.

Army Corps' Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Invasive Species Analysis Presents Options; Not Recommendations
On January 6, the Army Corps of Engineers released a report offering a range of eight alternatives that might prevent or mitigate the transfer of invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. The eight options were detailed in the congressionally-mandated report entitled "Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study" ("GLMRIS") and range from taking no additional federal action beyond what is being done now, to complete hydrological separation the basins at select locations. Significantly, the GLMRIS report neither makes recommendations nor prioritizes the various options. The report simply presents each of the eight alternatives, including its general location, a description of its conceptual design elements, an estimated implementation time, and estimated project cost. You can read more stories on the issue, below, under "Biodiversity," and our summary of the report findings, including detailed directions regarding how to comment on the report, here. The entire GLMRIS report is available at this Army Corps' web site.

New Report Recommends Areas of Improvement for USDA Mississippi River Water Quality Initiative
Fiscal Year 2012 Mississippi River
Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative
Priority Watersheds (click to enlarge)
The World Resources Institute (WRI) released a working paper on January 7 entitled “Improving Water Quality: A Review of the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) To Target U.S. Farm Conservation Funds.” In its report, WRI reviewed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), seeking to determine the extent to which the MRBI is achieving its goal of realizing measurable improvements in water quality. Based upon its analysis, WRI identified twelve "specific recommendations for MRBI that may assist NRCS and its project partners in achieving measurable improvements in landscape-scale water quality outcomes." The complete 35-page WRI report is available on-line to read and download here, and an overview of the report's findings can be found in this blog post.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Water Quality -
  • Testimony and statements from Natural Resource Committee Thursday hearing on Administration rewrite of George W. Bush-era stream buffer zone rule
  • USEPA appeals federal court decision that it cannot require WV poultry operation to obtain CWA stormwater permit
  • Sioux City (Iowa) studies addition of wastewater treatment plant phosphorus, nitrogen removal before guidelines are mandatory
  • Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry official comments on environmental groups' water quality nutrient standard lawsuit
  • Two companies will settle northwestern Wisconsin sand mine pollution case where sediments infiltrated wetland, stream and St. Croix River
  • Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy set to enter next phase with eight watershed demonstration projects
  • Wetland contamination with brine can be predicted in oil boom states, USGS study finds
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Next "Dredgefest" (in Louisiana) to focus on the Mississippi River: "A Land-Making Machine" (at least it used to be)
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer’s deal-making with GOP on water resources' bill (WRDA) "streamlining" upsets environmental allies
  • Majority Leader Cantor: House could hold final vote on $8.2 billion WRDA bill to fund US port and waterway projects this month
  • "The Great Flood": Hauntingly Poetic Documentary Recounts the Worst Flood in US History: Great Mississippi Flood of 1927
  • Interior Secretary terminates program designed to recognize and promote the conservation of valuable watersheds
  • Ohio River could soon be a thoroughfare for barge-carried fracking waste, worrying residents in the Cincinnati region
  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) calls on Congress to pass bill that would stop flood insurance rate increases
  • Senate may soon take procedural vote on flood insurance rate hike delay bill (bill information here:
  • Bill to delay flood insurance premium rate increases could get test vote in Senate soon
  • CBO report on the cost of implementing bill to reduce insurance premium rates under National Flood Insurance Program:
  • FEMA tasks National Academies to review its system of pricing flood insurance for homeowners at low elevations
  • Updated Illinois Waterway Navigation Charts now available (Illinois River from Mississippi River to Lake Michigan)
  • Nearly 70 barges backed up on either side of broken lock connecting Mississippi River and Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
  • Review begins of Louisiana's plans to build diversions of sediment and freshwater along Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers
  • Plans announced for new deep water dock at St. James, Louisiana, located on the Mississippi River
  • 2014 Missouri River runoff season begins; reservoirs drawn down significantly due to lingering 2012 drought effects
Farm Bill-
  • Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman stresses need for a dairy compromise in order to complete stalled farm bill
  • House Agriculture Committee Chair: final action on farm bill conference report now likely to slip into late January
  • Agreement reached on cuts to food stamps, but farm bill talks hit snag on dairy and catfish programs
  • Fight over dairy provisions is threatening to hold up completion of the farm bill this week
  • Sen. Stabenow optimistic on farm bill passage, even as tensions reemerge over dairy support issues
  • Pressure grows on Republicans to pass a new farm bill for the most basic of reasons: political survival
  • Farm and conservation groups look to farm bill reauthorization to reverse conservation fee budget provision
  • Farm bill negotiators are signaling a bill breakthrough is imminent on an impasse that began 15 months ago
  • Limited House January floor time and GOP opposition to small nutrition cuts could still derail a compromise farm bill
Agriculture -
  • "Top 10 list of (policy-related) things to watch in agriculture in 2014"
  • Freezing weather across U.S. will damage crops and is threatening livestock
  • USDA extends deadline for Conservation Stewardship applications
  • Iowa biodiesel production pushed over 230 million gallons last year, an increase of 25 percent and a new record
Climate and Weather -
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives-
  • Army Corps of Engineers releases its Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) Report (invasive species) (see story, above,
    Click to enlarge
    and news links below
  • Indiana Attorney General: Army Corps of Engineers report snubs state’s Wabash River Asian carp problem
  • Indiana Attorney General wants Army Corps to include state among public meeting sites on Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study
  • News coverage: Army Corps' Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study Report and
  • Conservation groups tout basin separation in response to Army Corps' Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study
  • Midwestern U.S. cities weigh costs of the invasive emerald ash borer fight
  • University of Minnesota researcher: Deep freeze could kill invasive emerald ash borer - KMSP-TV
  • Portion of Arkansas River considered for ‘Gold Medal’ fishing designation
In the States-
  • Coal, pipelines, and fish and wildlife agency on Kentucky state lawmakers' 2014 agenda
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana asks 5th Circuit Court to transfer its BP spill damage claims to another judge
  • National Hurricane Center to issue potential storm surge flood maps showing during during the 2014 hurricane season
Resource Development -
  • A look back on a year in North Dakota filled with oil, water, chemicals and round silica sand from WI and MN
Federal Budget -
  • Reuters: Lawmakers prepare stop-gap federal funding measure as clock runs down on spending bill
  • It is likely that some extension of the Federal spending continuing resolution (due to expire on January 15) will be needed
  • House appropriators agree to keep funding bill virtually free of controversial Interior Department and USEPA riders
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • FMR Workshop: Native Plants, Raingardens and Lawn Care for Water Quality; January 13, 6-8 pm, St. Paul, MN
  • EPA Watershed Academy webinar: planning for green infrastructure at the landscape scale; January 14; 1-3 PM ET
  • Army Corps January 14-16 open houses on Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on operation of Middle Mississippi River works
  • Minnesota River Watershed Alliance will meet January 21 (7 PM) at Ridgewater College in Hutchinson, Minn
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council annual meeting, January 23; Montana WILD, 2668 Broadwater Ave., Helena
  • Open House: Army Corps of Engineers' Mississippi River Visitor Center; Rock Island, Illinois; Locks and Dam #15; January 24, 9 AM-5 PM
  • 2014 Great Plains Low Impact Development Research and Innovation Symposium; Tulsa, Oklahoma State U; April 2-4;
  • St. Croix River Association is accepting registrations for its fourth annual summer paddle (June 14-20)
  • River Sweep 2014 has been set for Saturday, June 21, along shorelines of the Ohio River, tributaries in six states
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Industrial Stormwater mid-winter update
  • St. Croix River Association January e-newsletter
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update on agricultural land conservation/cover in the Mississippi River Basin
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for January 2014
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council January 9 Watershed News
Other news-
  • Majority Leader Cantor circulates legislative agenda among House colleagues; includes farm and water resources bills
  • Congressional "to-do" list includes farm bill and legislation to delay increases in flood insurance for policyholders
  • Upper Mississippi River Conservation Committee Conservation Award Nominations Due February 14; details here:
  • Federal judge extends deadline for USEPA to reveal when it will act on proposed rule for managing coal burning wastes
  • Living on Earth: 2014 promises to be a crucial U.S. political year for the environment
  • Toronto Star: "Here is a look at five environmental issues that will make headlines in 2014"
  • Little-known New Madrid seismic zone could greatly impact Missouri region; past quakes altered Mississippi River flow
  • Diverse chorus of voices are criticizing economic growth and its harm to well-being of humans and the planet
  • Jobs: Mississippi River Network seeks new Outreach Assistants; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dubuque, St. Louis/Alton regions
  • Upper Missouri Watershed Alliance formed to protect Missouri River
  • Costs related to December 14 fire at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium could top $1 million
  • EPA revamps Citizen Science website: new resources to assist public in conducting scientific research; collecting data
Politics and People-
  • Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Nally, an outspoken critic of U.S. EPA, has resigned
  • President Obama nominates veteran scientist Suzette Kimball to lead the U.S. Geological Survey
  • Environmental groups not happy with prospect of Sen. Landrieu (D-La.) chairing Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Last Word -
"We tried to foresee a lot of things, but what we just really didn't anticipate was groundhogs." - Clay Bakker, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art trails and grounds manager, commenting on the discovery that groundhogs have been found tunneling into the museum gift shop "green roof" in northwest Arkansas.

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