Friday, February 28, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

New USGS Maps and Tables Describe Nutrient Loading to Gulf of Mexico from Mississippi and Other River Basins
The USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program has made new maps and data tables available online that describe nutrient loading to major estuaries throughout the U.S. These new data presentations describe the major sources and contributing areas of nutrients to 115 estuaries along the coastal U.S., including nutrient loading from the Mississippi River Basin, and other watersheds into the northern Gulf of Mexico.  In addition to the new web pages, persons interested in a particular stream can now utilize an online, interactive SPARROW (SPAtially Referenced Regressions on Watershed attributes) nutrient model Decision-Support System (DSS) to estimate how reductions in upstream nutrient sources affect downstream nutrient loads at a stream outlet. More information is available on the NAWQA "Tracking the Source and Quantity of Nutrients to the Nation's Estuaries" web site, at the links under "Water Quality," below, and in our summary blog article.

Capitol Hill Next Week - What to Watch For
The President is scheduled to release an overview of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal to Congress on Tuesday, March 4 (you will be able to view that at this Office of Management and Budget web site). Release of the President's proposal will kick off a series of budget hearings on Capitol Hill during the subsequent weeks Some of those have already been scheduled for next week, beginning on Wednesday morning.  We have summarized the water resource-related budget hearings along with several other Mississippi River Basin water-related Congressional happenings here (budget details will be released by the White House during the following week).

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
USGS Map of River Basins Feeding Northern Gulf of Mexico
  • New USGS NAWQA maps and tables describe nutrient loading to Gulf of Mexico from Mississippi and other river basins (part of larger scale data release - see here:
  • Federal court strikes down Stream Buffer Zone Rule promulgated under President George W. Bush to govern strip-mining activities
  • Over $1 million in state grants targeted at boosting efforts to clean up water bodies across Washington County, Minnesota
  • University of Northern Iowa researchers study how Iowa agriculture affects water in state, Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico
  • On Earth: "Hog wild: Factory farms are poisoning Iowa's drinking water"
  • Lower Mississippi River barge crash and oil spill highlight risks associated with the current US oil boom (see additional spill stories below under Water Resource Management)
  • University of North Carolina's Environmental Finance Center  investigating innovative financing approaches for stormwater and green infrastructure
  • West Virginians Harvest Rainwater in Wake of Chemical Spill
  • Water management plan in the works to reduce amount of water pollution in the Spring River watershed, Southwest Missouri
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • House vote on flood insurance bill delayed until next week while members negotiate language that the chamber can pass
  • Divided House Republicans turn to Rep. Waters (D-CA) for help on flood insurance bill
  • USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture to make grants available under new initiative to address agricultural water challenges
  • Wyoming Legislature weighs approving $2 Million for North Platte River restoration in Casper
  • National Weather Service: Despite expected Spring snow melt, there is little likelihood of significant Midwest flooding
  • Localized flooding remains a threat along the Platte River in Nebraska and
    Platte River Ice Jams
  • Eastern Iowa flood forecast good, but  experts closely watching frost depth of ground as spring rains near
  • Forum participants debate whether federal disaster aid impairs or helps state efforts to reduce flood, other natural disaster risks
  • 65-mile stretch of Mississippi River, including Port of New Orleans, was closed to all water traffic Sunday after oil spill (see later article, below)
  • Coast Guard reopens busy stretch of  lower Mississippi River to traffic, two days after it was closed by an oil spill
  • "Long-shot" 360-mile Missouri River aqueduct plan offers window into Kansas water issues
  • EPA and National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies agree to advance Low Impact Development, green infrastructure
  • Missouri River levels drop in Kansas City area as the bottom of the River erodes
  • Once-every-20-year Army Corps maintenance of  Upper Mississippi River Lock and Dam 8 surmounts weather challenges
  • An overview of “Mitigation Banking” - a practice proving to be essential for improving, protecting wetlands, streams, other aquatic resources
  • 2011 Mississippi River flood's breach nicknamed "Mardi Gras Pass" exposes challenges, benefits of using river diversions to advance coastal restoration
  • Environmental groups oppose proposed state bill to give Louisiana governor more control of levee authorities' membership
  • Opposition to a proposed dike project on Mississippi River (Wolf Lake, IL) voiced at Army Corps public hearing
  • Bureau of Reclamation approves long-envisioned Arkansas Valley Conduit to deliver public water to Arkansas Valley (project web site here:
Click to enlarge
Agriculture -
  • USDA Prairie Pothole Wetland and Grassland Retention Project "Infographic" (see figure to the right) --->
  • Minnesota Department of Agriculture to hold  open houses to kick off new Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program
  • Both small family operations and sophisticated organic-grower networks face an unexpected adversary in new FDA rules
  • USDA ERS: Genetically engineered crops (mainly corn, cotton, soybeans) were planted on about half of U.S.crop land in 2013
  • Combination of cheap corn and a slight interest rate increase could result in major farmland values' topple
  • Roll out of "prescriptive planting’ technology" could usher in "the next revolution on the farm" - some farmers are leery
  • Farmers see more benefits from growing covers, but few choose to grow them
  • The McKnight Foundation announces new Crop Research Program Advisory Committee members
February 25 Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • February 25 weekly national drought monitor update: dryness spreads through Mississippi Valley and Plains
  • NOAA's Climate Prediction Center March monthly drought outlook - will published at the end of February and available here:
  • Senate passes, sends to President, bill that reauthorizes program to assess the effects of and respond to droughts (link to bill here:
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Science takes on invasive aquatic mussels that have done vast economic and ecological damage across 34 states
  • USDA to focus money in U.S. Midwest to help farmers, ranchers improve pastures, provide food for struggling honeybees
  • 1,700 acres of Ohio corn and soybean fields connect Ohio River and Great Lakes basins, providing an unlikely invasive species pathway
  • Environmental group coalition urges U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ban genetically engineered crops, certain pesticides at national wildlife refuges
  • Natural Resource Defense Council petitions EPA to restrict use of glyphosate herbicide to protect monarch butterfly
  • Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) turns spotlight on Oklahoma bugs and birds, Endangered Species Act,  in Committee hearing (Committee hearing page here:
In the Cities -
  • Decorah, Iowa will be receiving Iowa River Revival's "River Town of the Year Award" (Iowa River Revival's web site:
  • New Orleans opens portion of new Crescent Park: 1.4-mile long recreational area running along Mississippi River
  • Raising the bar in New Orleans: Remediating 10,000 blighted properties in less than four years (9 years post-Katrina)
  • Wausau City Council reviews preliminary design ideas for new Riverfront District along "desolate stretch" of Wisconsin River
  • Tulsa, OK riverside park planning will proceed, but project director says related Arkansas River development plan, dam ideas are outdated
In the States-
  • Proposed state bill to limit scope and impact of Indiana's environmental rules dies in Senate committee
  • Wisconsin Legislature's bill concerning frac sand mining in western part of state has strong local, county opposition
  • Wisconsin bill to rewrite sand mine regulations has been scaled back by its sponsors to win support as session wanes
  • State environmental regulators want tougher monitoring for groundwater pollution at Illinois coal ash storage sites
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Appeals court upholds dismissal of BP lawsuit by 11 Louisiana parishes over pollution-related aquatic life, wildlife losses
Forestry -
  • President’s annual budget request to Congress will propose major change in how government pays to fight wildfires
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • 44th annual Audubon Nebraska Crane Festival commences Saturday, March 1, and continues through April 6
  • Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge open house March 1, at the refuge’s Bloomington Education and Visitor Center
  • 2014 Inland Waterways (maritime industry) Conference, March 5-7, Hyatt Regency, New Orleans, La.
  • EPA webcast “Innovative Transportation Stormwater Management: Green Infrastructure in Road Projects” March 6, 1-3 pm EST
  • Water Environment Federation free webinar: How to Have a Successful Congressional Meeting; March 6; 2-3 pm EST
  • USFS hosting workshop to advance natural resource use in city stormwater mitigation; March 12-13; Atlanta, GA
  • Building Resilience Workshop (BRW V) organizers announce that BRW V will be held March 12-14, in New Orleans
  • Emiquon Science Symposium 2014: Taking Stock Before the Connection;  March 27, Dickson Mounds Museum, Lewistown, Ill.
  • Minnesota Watershed Professionals Network Spring Meeting, April 17, Redwood Falls, MN
  • Nitrate in Montana Hydrologic Systems 2014 Conference, April 23-24, Helena, MT
  • Restore America's Estuaries 7th National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration; Nov. 1-6, Washington, DC
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency introduces newsletter dedicated to Stormwater Manual: "Minnesota Stormwater Manual News"
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Watershed Network News - Feb. 27, 2014
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's weekly "TUWaterWays" February 25 newsletter (PDF file)
  • Go here for the Association of State Floodplain Managers News & Views February e-newsletter link (and for archived issues)
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency River Connections for February 2014
  • The Montana Watershed Coordination Council February 27 Watershed News
  • Great Rivers Partnership news from The Nature Conservancy - February 2014
Other news-
NOAA Nautical Chart:
Approaches to Mississippi River
(click to enlarge)
  • NOAA makes PDF versions of nautical charts a permanent on-line product, free to public (includes Mississippi River to Baton Rouge; Gulf of Mexico)
  • The only Mississippi nature tourism business that takes people paddling on the Mississippi River hit by $41,000 in state taxes
  • House passes "takings" legislation that would make it more difficult for the government to seize private property
  • GreenBiz Group, Inc. publishes its 2014 GreenBiz NGO Report: how companies rate 30 well-known environmental groups as partners
  • Job announcement: Macroinvertebrate Ecologist, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, Alton, IL
  • White House says that it will veto the House GOP anti-regulatory legislation if it passes Congress (H.R. 2542, "Regulatory Flexibility Act") (see the bill here:
  • New Horinko Group report looks at policy, planning and practice implications of greening the contaminated site remediation business
  • USEPA's National Aquatic Resource Surveys Campus Research Challenge gives college students opportunity to use national data to conduct scientific research, analysis; Entries due May 15
Politics and People-
  • Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) will try for a third time to defeat incumbent Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA-2)
  • Delayed Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee votes on two Interior Department nominees (Janice Schneider and Rhea Suh) to occur "fairly soon"
  • Senate votes unanimously to confirm Michael Connor to be deputy secretary of the Interior
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announces changes of subcommittee chairs and
  • In surprise decision, Rep. Cory Gardner (R) decides to jump into Colorado Senate race against incumbent Mark Udall (D)
  • State Rep. Amy Stephens drops out of Senate race in Colorado after fellow Republican Cory Gardner announces candidacy
  • Former Louisiana coastal adviser, Garret Graves, announces campaign for Louisiana 6th District U.S. House seat
  • Leading GOP candidate Walt Rogers drops out of race for Iowa-01 seat, will instead run for Iowa House seat reelection
Last Word -
 Rep. John D. Dingell
I’m not going to be carried out feet first.” - Rep. John D. Dingell, a long-time Michigan Democratic Member of the U.S. House, speaking to the Detroit News as he announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election. Dingell added, "I find serving in the House to be obnoxious."

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