Friday, January 17, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Spending Bill Delays Flood Insurance Rate Hikes While Related Legislation Progresses In Senate
Within the federal omnibus fiscal year 2014 spending bill passed by Congress this week is a provision that will suspend until November 2014 flood insurance premium rate increases under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); rate hikes due to be implemented under NFIP revisions enacted in 2012 (in the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012).  The omnibus language retains scheduled premium increases for vacation houses, for businesses and for frequently-flooded properties, as well as a requirement that drops federal insurance subsidies whenever a home is sold.

In the meantime, 30 Senate co-sponsors, mostly from coastal states, are backing the "Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act" (S. 1846), (introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)).  That bill would delay for four years the implementation of certain provisions of the 2012 Flood Insurance Reform Act, including rate increases intended to help the NFIP become financially solvent by bringing rates more in line with actual flooding risks.  The Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act may see formal Senate consideration as early as this month.

For those wanting additional background on the issue, we offer this overview and related references on the NFIP, its history of financial insolvency, and the most recent (2012) substantive attempt to reform the program.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • GAO Report: "Clean Water Act: Changes Needed If Key EPA Program Is to Help Fulfill the Nation's Water Quality Goals"
  • WRI studies USDA landscape water quality initiative targeting critical watersheds; finds the project has serious potential
  • StateImpact: "Chicken Pollution? Poultry Farms and the Illinois River" (Arkansas and Oklahoma)
  • Reps. Latta (R-Ohio) and Walz (D-Minn.) propose bill aiming to maximize wastewater treatment improvements (bill here:
  • Republican rider to omnibus spending bill loosens EPA oversight of waste fill in streams -
West Virginia Spill
  • Authorities monitor Kanawha River, West Virginia spill chemical as it moves into Ohio River
  • Governor's critics say water crisis 'pulls back the curtain' on West Virginia water threats
  • Slow return to normal in spill-plagued West Virginia
  • West Virginia Public Broadcasting: "7 things we know about the chemical spill in West Virginia"
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Melting snow makes barge travel easier on the Mississippi River
  • Omnibus spending bill offers reprieve until November for coastal property owners facing flood insurance rate increase
  • Public outcry prompts delay in some of the scheduled federal flood insurance rate hikes
  • Despite high Mississippi River, Caernarvon Diversion remains closed to the possible detriment of downstream wetlands
  • Fishing community raises objections to about $30 million planned for 2015 Mississippi River sediment diversions
  • Army Corps to contract out marine rock placement on Mississippi River backwater to create environmental habitat
  • Rep. Luetkemeyer (R-MO) lauds spending bill provision prohibiting funding of Army Corps' Missouri River Ecosystem Restoration Plan implementation
  • Members of Illinois’ congressional delegation wants Army Corps to fix portions of a Mississippi River levee
  • Cozad Canal rehabilitation work objectives are to increase Platte River flows and protect endangered species
Farm Bill-
  • Opinion article: Conservation programs represent "The 'Good' Part of the Farm Bill"
  • Agriculture lawmakers return to another week of farm bill negotiations after talks stalled last week
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) hints of dairy issue breakthrough in farm bill negotiations
Agriculture -
  • Water Quality Information Center at the National Agricultural Library has produced two new “dynamic” bibliographies
  • Farm Bureau warns: EPA moving too aggressively to control farm, ranch land
  • Iowa officials schedule January 23 proposed USEPA 2014 ethanol, biofuel targets hearing after Administration declines
  • Kansas Dept of Health and Environment: About 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel-water mixture recovered from Shunga Creek
  • Iowa farmland values climbed 8.7 percent last year, a new report shows, but demand is beginning to soften
  • Congressional letter to EPA Administrator says reducing renewable fuels amount in gasoline could hurt rural economies
  • Jonathan Coppess, University of Illinois: “Evaluating EPA’s Arguments for Renewable Fuel Standard Waiver Authority”
Midwest Drought Monitor Status
January 14 (click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • Slight expansion was noted by NOAA to the drought across the Midwest last week
  • NOAA's Annual 2013 National Overview reports a year cooler, wetter than average for most of Mississippi River Basin
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Recently-published University of Wisconsin-Madison study: most invasive species populations don’t grow very large
  • Scientists are searching for new answers to protect the endangered pallid sturgeon in Missouri River watershed
  • Reproducing Mississippi River Asian carp populations are still believed to be south of Minnesota; although isolated fish observed in state
  • Wintering population size of Bald Eagles soars in Illinois
  • EPA misses Tuesday deadline to issue finalized cooling water intake structure standards under Section Clean Water Act
  • Army Corps seeks firms for studies and hatchery work to support, propagate endangered Missouri River pallid sturgeon
  • Ash tree destroyer on course to invade South Dakota in about five years
Reaction to Army Corps' GLMRIS Report
  • Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) argues against physically separating Lake Michigan from Mississippi River in effort to block Asian carp
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) weighs in on idea of separating the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes  to block invasive species
  • Wisconsin residents say plug Chicago Ship canal, stop Asian carp, at lightly attended public hearing
  • Ohio Attorney General calls on Army Corps of Engineers to hydrologically separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9) calls for hydrological separation of Mississippi and Great Lakes Basins at public meeting
In the States-
  • Is Minnesota on right track toward Legacy Amendment goal to "protect, enhance and restore" water resources?
  • Minnesota state draft 2014 Impaired Waters List comment period extended until February 11
Areal Photos of Delacroix area in
Bernard Parish, Louisiana
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana's top coastal restoration body backs energy companies on issue of Levee Board wetland destruction lawsuit
  • Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East defends its wetland loss lawsuit against oil and gas companies
  • Western Louisiana activists say corporations are clearing Louisiana’s forests to meet European renewable energy goals
Federal Budget -
  • Senate approves $1 trillion omnibus spending bill, sparing the government from another shutdown
  • Omnibus spending bill boosts Army Corps' civil works budget but limits new environmental restoration projects
  • Spending bill gives USDA overall increase in discretionary funding but reduces its ability to fund biofuels projects
  • Massive 2014 spending bill leaves President Obama's energy, environment and climate programs largely intact
  • Politico outlines the details of the 2014 Fiscal Year government spending bill poised for passage this week
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Here is America Water Blog's list of some of the major meetings and events coming in 2014 in the world of water
  • Wisconsin Legacy Communities and Wisconsin Water Star Sustainable Strategies Webinar Series; 12 programs through 2014
  • Abstracts due February 2 for CEER 2014 Ecosystem Restoration conference, July 28-August 1, New Orleans
  • Environmental Connection 2014; International Erosion Control Association, Nashville, Tennessee, February 25–28
  • Mississippi River Research Consortium soliciting papers, posters for presentation at April 23-25, Annual Meeting
  • Integrative Session for Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting, May 18-23, Portland, OR (Intrnl Society for River Science)
  • Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality to host environmental justice conference (details to be determined)
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch; Vol 10 No 1b, January 13
  • January 2014 America's Waterway "River Currents" e-newsletter
  • National Water Quality Monitoring Council's eighth edition of its National Water Monitoring News online newsletter
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council January 16 Watershed News
Other news-
  • EPA announces Request for Applications, National Center for Sustainable Water Infrastructure Modeling Research
Politics and People-
  • Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to resign at end of 2014, foregoing final 2 years of term; setting special election in motion
  • EPA announces Regional Administrator nominee for Region 4 Office (Region covers part of Mississippi River Basin)
  • Uncertainty exists within Obama Administration about who will lead its energy and environmental agenda in 2014
  • GOP candidate Weston Wamp will run against GOP Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (TN-3rd district) again:
  • Republican Secretary of State Schultz jumps into race for retiring GOP Rep. Tom Latham's Iowa-3rd district seat:
Last Word -
"A politician is a man who understands government. A statesman is a politician who's been dead for 15 years." - Former President, and (later) statesman, Harry S. Truman

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