Friday, February 21, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Capitol Hill Next Week - What to Watch For
The U.S. Congress was recessed this week for its annual President's Day break, but both chambers are back in session next week.  There are several Congressional committee activities scheduled that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resource issues, including a meeting on a bill that would place new regulatory and guidance development requirements upon the Administration, a hearing on a bill to require new dam infrastructure reporting from the Bureau of Reclamation (applicable in the Missouri River Basin), an oversight hearing on Department of Interior hiring and retention procedures, and others.  For details on these activities, and links to related materials, you can see our summary, here.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Federal and state efforts - regulating farmers, studying problems - not enough to protect Ohio’s waterways from harmful algal blooms
  • Editorial: "EPA's Cooperative Approach to Regulating Algae Pollution Falls Flat"
  • Study: methylmercury concentrations in estuary waters, not in sediment, better predict extent of food chain mercury contamination
  • Iowa farmers and other rural residents press the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission for cleaner water
  • Activists: Iowa panel overseeing water quality too aligned with farm interests to aggressively enforce environmental law
  • West Virginia DEP: Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission tests show no water quality change following coal slurry spill in Kanawha River tributary
  • New nitrogen and phosphorus water quality trading system will start with about 30 farms across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky
  • Midwest farmers ease into industry-created water quality credit system to fight Gulf of Mexico hypoxia
  • University of Missouri researchers join national effort searching for solutions for nutrient runoff from farms
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Seven-county Twin Cities (MN) metro area's relentless demand for groundwater could leave millions of people dry
  • Army Corps hosts public hearing on southern Illinois, Mississippi River levees
  • Vice President Biden tours Mississippi River port at Granite City, Illinois to push for more port infrastructure funding
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) urges congressional leaders to delay flood insurance premium increases
  • From Dubuque, Iowa to Gregory Landing, Missouri, Mississippi River spring flood risk near normal to slightly elevated
Agriculture -
  • An estimated 400 million acres of U.S. farmland will likely change hands over next two decades-much going to private investors
  • USDA 2012 Census shows value of farmland sales up dramatically; number of farms and land in farms down slightly (see press release here:
  • USDA to invest in efforts to help landowners conserve grasslands and wetlands in the Prairie Pothole region
  • Major producers of corn-based ethanol are reporting record returns thanks to dramatically lower corn prices
  • Tight farm profit margins suggest farmers should think twice about investing in more land
  • Roundup-resistant "superweeds" crowding in on corn, soybeans in Midwest
  • Illinois agricultural statistics implicate 2011 flooding for farmland productivity losses
  • DTN Ag Policy Blog: “Cover Crops: Health Care for the Soil”
February 18 National Drought Map
(click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • Mississippi River valley rain over past week diminished drought in parts of Louisiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin; little relief in Plains
  • Drought expected to persist or intensify into Spring across the Southwest and Southern Plains
In the Cities -
  • Cincinnati decision to decertify flood levee surrounding airport instead of bringing it up to standards under scrutiny
In the States-
  • Proposed numeric nutrient standard rules have been filed by Montana; copies are available at the following website:
  • Indiana lawmakers close to passing measure that opponents say would favor big agribusinesses
  • Indiana lawmakers urged to reject environment rules bill by coalition of 16 environmental, health and citizens groups
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • As cold engulfs Great Lakes, Pittsburgh's open three-rivers' water is an attractive alternative for gulls
  • Iowa: New Bison trucked in to help keep prairie balanced at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
  • Science World Report: "Dangerous Fish: Asian Carp Posing Threat to Boaters in Mississippi River Waters"
  • Wild bumblebees worldwide in trouble; they provide substantial portion of worldwide flower and food crop pollination
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • NOAA makes coastal land loss official: removing 40 place names from Coastal Louisiana nautical maps
Forestry -
  • Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility: U.S. Forest Service's law enforcement division freezes staff and cuts enforcement after requesting budget cut
Resource Development -
  • Court finds that a law giving Nebraska governor approval of Keystone pipeline route violated the state constitution (Also see:
  • Iowa ethanol plant - to be operational in June - will be one of the first producers of biofuels made from crop waste
  • Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear endorses legislation that would hamper development of Bluegrass Pipeline through state
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • 19th Annual Tulane Environmental Law and Policy Summit, February 21-22, Tulane Law School, New Orleans, LA
  • Farm Bill overview webinars, February 26; March 5 and 12, hosted by American Farmland Trust and National Association of Conservation Districts
  • USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta to Host Google+ Hangout on the Changing Face of Agriculture; February 24; 3 PM ET
  • Registration open: 2014 State of the Coast Conference, New Orleans, LA, March 18-20
  • Registration now open for the Society for Ecological Restoration Midwest Great Lakes Chapter meeting; Univ of Minnesota, St. Paul; March 28-30
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia -
  • Winter Update from America's Watershed Initiative
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's weekly "TUWaterWays" newsletters (February 14 and February 19: (PDF files))
  • February "1 Mississippi" newsletter, highlighting River Citizens getting results (and having fun!)
  • St. Croix River Association's February 18 e-newsletter
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update, highlighting Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land
  • The Wetlands Initiative February e-newsletter
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency 2/20 Feedlot Update looks at Wisconsin's manure management weather alert system
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council Watershed News 2. 20.14
  • American Farmland Trust February newsletter, with news of upcoming free Farm Bill webinars
Other news-
Click to enlarge
  • Four senators (three from Mississippi River basin) want halt to Endangered Species Act consultations over EPA power plant cooling water intake rule
  • Mississippi Delta's rich history, both prehistoric and historic, is in danger of being lost (Arkansas and Mississippi) (map to the right)
  • Dozens of amateurs not only building large canoes - they're also going to paddle them down the Missouri River
  • Illinois Water Resources Center now accepting grant applications for Student Research Awards program; deadline March 14
Politics and People-
  • Environmental Council of the States names Alexandra Dapolito Dunn as its new executive director
  • Dick Lambert, MN DOT’s director for ports and waterways, retires after 50 years in waterways transportation sector
  • Edwin Edwards planning a 2014  run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-6-LA)
  • Heber Springs Mayor Jackie McPherson (D) enters US House race against GOP incumbent Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR-1)
Last Word -
"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." - Photographer Ansel Adams, born on February 20, 1902

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