Friday, March 21, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Next Week in Congress - What to Watch For
The U.S. House and Senate are back in session next week, following a week off.  Most activities currently scheduled next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources will deal with the President's fiscal year 2015 budget proposal for select water-related agencies.  There is also a subcommittee hearing on water quality trading initiatives and a hearing on the interface of the Endangered Species Act with U.S. Forest Service forest management activities. We list all of the presently-scheduled activities here, along with links to the respective hearing web site (to view details and to - usually - be able to watch the proceedings live).

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • LEAD STORY: Federal court grants U.S. EPA a stay from developing numeric standards for water pollution in Mississippi River Basin
  • Environmental groups file federal lawsuit against United Bulk for Mississippi River pollution at Louisiana coal export facility (also see:
  • Hearings set on Montana's proposed nutrient surface water pollution standards
  • EPA Issues Guidance for Cities on Managing Sewer Overflows With Green Infrastructure
  • EPA publishes final rule changing existing regulations applying to stormwater discharges from construction activities
  • Oil spills from flooded oil wells into Missouri River in North Dakota
  • Spill at flooded North Dakota oil well contained before oil could leak into nearby Missouri and Yellowstone rivers
  • Phosphorus concentrations have been decreasing since 2003 in parts of  Illinois River basin (Oklahoma)
  • ExxonMobil says Arkansas oil pipeline spill is cleaned up
  • Environmental groups plan to sue Kentucky coal ash plant for “unabated” coal ash dumping into the Ohio River
  • Long-term strategy to reduce sediment in Minnesota River and south metro Mississippi River open for public comment
  • Oil pipeline leaks in Ohio nature preserve near Cincinnati (also see:
  • 10,000-gallon oil spill at the Oak Glen Nature Preserve in Ohio is now contained and the pipeline has been shut off
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • LEAD STORY: Key House and Senate Water Resources Development Act differences resolved; a final agreement likely after April 30
  • LEAD STORY: Senate gives final congressional approval to bill that limits most flood 
    Levee Break: 2011 Mississippi River Flooding
    insurance premium increases, rolling back 2012 reform law
  • Obama will sign discounted flood insurance bill after it sails through the Senate
  • Across parched US West, Southern Plains, long drought sets off fierce legal, political battles over who controls water
  • Army Corps of Engineer’s has revived a plan to remove the Lock and Dam No. 6 on the Green River in Kentucky
  • Missouri River flood threat is low for most areas; reservoirs have extra room for runoff
  • Army Corps schedules Missouri River Basin public meetings to provide updates on current River Basin conditions
Agriculture -
  • Wal-Mart to begin requiring suppliers of crops (such as corn, wheat, soy) to develop fertilizer-optimization plans
  • Agricultural Act of 2014 (a/k/a "farm bill") calls for mandatory spending on USDA conservation programs to decline by $200 million between 2014-18; details here:
  • USDA TV Feature: Preserving Prairie Potholes For Wildlife
Latest Drought Monitor Map
(click to expand)
Climate and Weather -
  • National drought update for March 18: Little rain for next two weeks in parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas; dryness expansion in southern Iowa, north Missouri, west Illinois (also see the "Last Word," below)
  • NOAA Releases 2013 Global Climate Report
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Property values rise on zebra-mussel infested lakes, study indicates
  • Oklahoma and industry alliance sue Fish and Wildlife Service over 2011 mega-settlements with environmental groups
In the Cities -
  • Resource Rain Chattanooga, Tennessee: Low Impact Development Design Challenge focused on managing stormwater
  • Wichita Falls pursuing four-step wastewater recycling plan to provide over a third of  city’s current daily water use (on Wichita River)
  • Hugo, Minnesota asks state Legislature for $3 million in bonding funds to convert stormwater for irrigation use
  • Proposal would limit fishing along Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines
In the States-
  • Two West Virginia agencies seek to dismiss lawsuit that would force them to do more to prevent water contamination
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Authority timeline: Louisiana energy companies involved in wetlands lawsuit ignored federal, state environmental guidelines
  • As Louisiana's coast washes away, threatened communities face questions about their identity
  • Louisiana on track to have more than $2 billion in coastal restoration projects done or underway by 2015
  • Louisiana: Study - 'Pipelines Can Rebuild Wetlands More Cheaply Than Diversions' in some cases
  • Louisiana's coastal insects still dying from BP oil spill, researcher says
  • Coastal restoration, and BP oil spill topics at this week's Louisiana State of the Coast conference
Resource Development -
  • Average U.S. ethanol plant made a profit of $23 million last year, the second most profitable on record
Federal Budget -
  • Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack testifies at House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on budget related matters
  • National Association of Conservation Districts outlines Congressional appropriations priorities for conservation programs
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • "Cultivating a Healthy Future: Agriculture’s Role in Improving Health and Wellness" Summit, April 7, 9 AM - 12:45 PM, Washington, DC
  • 2014 America's Watershed Initiative Summit registration open; September 30- October 2, 2014; Louisville, Kentucky
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • Indiana American Water accepting grant applications for projects to improve, restore, protect  watersheds, surface water, groundwater
  • USEPA to lose about 540 employees by April through buyouts and "early outs"
Politics and People-
  • Rep. Vance McAllister (R-LA-5) takes House Agriculture Committee seat; assigned to three subcommittees and
  • Republican Tom Hoefling files papers to challenge Iowa GOP Gov. Terry Branstad in the Iowa GOP primary
  • Former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner expected to formally announce (2015) bid for Kentucky governor on Tuesday
  • Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn.,  announces that he will seek a 13th term in Minnesota's 7th District
  • Ann Callis wins Democratic nomination in Illinois' 13th District; to face freshman GOP Rep. Rodney Davis in fall
  • Businessman Bruce Rauner wins primary; will face Democratic incumbent Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in this fall's election
  • Illinois state Sen. Oberweis (R) wins GOP Senate primary; will face House Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) in fall
  • Former Governor Edwin Edwards announces that he will be running as a Democrat to represent Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District
Last Word -
Satellite photo of March 18 "haboob"
(click to enlarge)
"Haboob" - Originally an arabic term, "haboob" is a word for a dust storm or sandstorm. A large wall of dust that was up to 1,000 feet high and 200 miles wide blew across Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico on Tuesday.  For the past six months, precipitation amounts have ranged from four to locally almost a foot below average in the Red River Valley, Oklahoma.  Since the start of the water year (October 2013), a mere 15 to 35 percent of average precipitation has fallen on much of the Texas Panhandle and northeast New Mexico (NOAA March 18 Drought Update).

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