Friday, March 28, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
Next Week in Congress
Various U.S. House and Senate committees have scheduled hearings for next week that
relate to Mississippi River Basin water resource issues. As in recent weeks, most of the hearings will deal with the President's proposed fiscal year 2015 budget for select agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture. Presently, the lone exception to that fiscal topic is Thursday's House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's hearing on disaster mitigation and planning.  To see all of the hearings' details and find links to each, you can follow this link.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week 

Water Quality -
Proposed Clean Water Act Jurisdiction Rule
  • LEAD STORY: EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Clarify Protection for Nation’s Streams and Wetlands; Agriculture’s Exemptions and Exclusions from Clean Water Act Expanded by Proposal
  • LEAD STORY: Obama administration regulatory proposal would bring nearly all rivers, streams under Clean Water Act protection
  • LEAD STORY: Washington Post: EPA proposes greater protections for streams, wetlands under Clean Water Act
  • Reaction swift to Obama administration proposal that increases number of streams falling under Clean Water Act jurisdiction
  • House appropriators warn Army Corps' official that Administration's proposed Clean Water Act rule will "have a tough time up here"
  • Some federal lawmakers indicate they will attempt to stop the EPA’s Clean Water Act jurisdiction effort (second half of article)
  • 53 conservation practices would be exempt; previous agriculture exemptions would stay in place under Clean Water Act proposed rule
  • EPA media release: "Here’s What They’re Saying About the Clean Water Act Proposed Rule"
  • Proposed Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule dominates Thursday morning House Appropriation subcommittee hearing
  • Op-ed: Proposed Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule protects Midwest’s streams, wetlands
Other Water Quality News
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee takes a close look at water quality trading issues
  • City of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, announces series of programs aimed at improving Big Sioux River water quality
  • Playing catch-up with runoff: Farmers plow new ground on water quality (Wisconsin)
  • Fracking company owner pleads guilty to ordering fracking waste dumped into Mahoning River
  • Justice Department seeks $197 million in Clean Water Act fines from CITGO Petroleum for 2006 Lake Charles, La.  refinery oil spill
  • Kanawha County, West Virginia's new computer program will catalog hazardous storage sites threatening county's waterways
  • ND wildlife manager wants wildlife area contaminated by oil spill at confluence of Yellowstone and Missouri rivers totally clean
  • Supreme Court declines to review challenge to EPA's authority to retroactively veto Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Act permits (see related news release: House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee heads announce plans to mark up bill to "push back on EPA regulatory overreach"
  • House passes bill to block USEPA's Office of Surface Mining from promulgating controversial Stream Protection Rule
  • ISU's Iowa Nutrient Research Center provides first quarter progress information on 10 projects; story: and report:
  • Iowa State Daily editorial: Iowa waterways need more attention
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • LEAD STORY: President signs bill rolling back flood insurance rate increases called for in National Flood Insurance Program 2012 reform bill
  • LEAD STORY: FEMA Administrator tells House panel that his agency doesn't yet have timeline to implement new flood insurance law
  • Relief, uncertainty after flood insurance fix
  • Federal flood insurance costs to jump in Iowa
  • Flood insurance rate spikes to ripple across Illinois
  • FEMA intends to prepare Environmental Impact Statement on proposed modifications to the National Flood Insurance Program
  • Some Mississippi River shipping ports remain closed with a record amount of ice lingering longer than usual
  • Arkansas and Oklahoma congressional delegation requests study of McClennan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System
  • Army Corps To Begin Levee Construction Project Along Shell Creek In Schuyler, Nebraska
  • Southeastern Minnesota's water supply is both the most plentiful in the state and the most vulnerable
Agriculture -
  • Nebraska’s success in recruiting new farmers and ranchers could point the way for other states and Congress
  • "There's a growing discontent among the farming community" over a variety of problematic issues like drought, GMOs
  • Fish and Wildlife Service, conservation groups partner to highlight problems with Prairie Pothole Region grassland conversions to crops
  • U.S. crop forecast: Farmers will plant 6% more soybean acres this spring while corn acreage will drop 2.4%
  • Iowa farmland values dropped 5.4 percent during the past six months
  • Lower corn prices fueled a dramatic 78 percent drop in Minnesota farm income last year
March 25 Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • NOAA/NWS March 25 drought monitor update: drought expands in Plains; status quo in Midwest
  • In its spring outlook, US weather forecasters see Iowa drought ending this spring
  • NOAA's spring outlook: Flooding, Drought and More: What Spring Has In Store
  • Climate Assessment Report: Runoff into Missouri River has become erratic, prone to cause flooding, no clear reason why
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • LEAD STORY: Fish and Wildlife Service lists Lesser Prairie-Chicken as threatened; Endorses landmark State Conservation Plan; FWS notice: (also see story here:
  • Partnership with Pheasants Forever will Provide $5 Million to Promote Improved Lesser Prairie-chicken Habitat
  • Potential for Endangered Species Act listing for the lesser prairie chicken sparks debate ahead of March 30 deadline (story prior to listing announcement)
  • Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R., Tex.) says his new bill would "improve the Endangered Species Act" by preventing listings
  • House Natural Resources Committee members introduce four bills "to improve and update the Endangered Species Act"
  • First eaglet hatches in Minnesota DNR's webcam nest after no eggs hatched last year
    Bald eagle feeds a newly hatched eaglet in Minnesota live webcam
  • Kansas state Senate committee votes to repeal the state's 1975 endangered species law
  • Minnesota natural resource staff prepare for 2014's work to prevent spread of zebra mussels, other aquatic invaders
  • Minnesota Legislature bills would require official state materials to refer to Asian carp as "invasive carp" instead
  • Iowa River still has a surprisingly high percentage of its pre-settlement native fish species
  • Processing plant in Kentucky is trying the latest method of Asian carp disposal: sending them to China
  • Businesses and officials look to 'rebrand' Asian carp as cuisine from the Illinois River
  • State fish and wildlife agencies to get almost $1.1 billion in federal funds (between $1 and $50 million per state) to fund conservation, recreation
  • Environmental groups intend to sue EPA over its approval of a new pesticide because of the potential harm to endangered species
In the Cities -
  • Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative mayors push to protect Mississippi River at Washington DC meeting
  • LaCrosse Mayor Tim Kabat one of 15 Mississippi River mayors speaking out for River communities in Washington D.C.  this week
  • Roy Buol, mayor of Dubuque, Iowa, discusses reviving Mississippi River economy on Bloomberg Television's "Bottom Line" (related: Dubuque mayor Roy Buol visits Washington D.C. as co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative
  • Federally-mandated Springfield, Ohio project to cut raw sewage flowing into local waterways could cost up to $243 million
  • National spotlight: What smart cities can learn from Memphis
  • The history of levees in New Orleans
  • Dubuque, Iowa wins 2014 "Big Muddy Cup" - awarded to top metro area along Mississippi River for new corporate investments
  • Des Moines proposal to prohibit downtown fishing delayed to allow time to evaluate alternatives
  • "Restoring and Reusing Degraded Landscapes" article highlights Minneapolis, Minnesota riverside restoration effort
In the States-
  • State representative says Illinois Levee Laws will cause major flooding in area if passed
  • Oklahoma Legislature asks U.S. Geological Survey for new Red River study from headwaters to Mississippi River
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Lego-like coast-protecting technology wins $50,000 Water Challenge in New Orleans
Resource Development -
  • Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) hopes Environmental Protection Agency will not reduce U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard as much as proposed
  • West Virginia residents say mountaintop coal removal is altering ridgelines, ravaging environment and a way of life
  • Questions linger whether it's wise to turn Mississippi River headwaters region into a pipeline conduit
Federal Budget -
  • House Republicans in April will consider a budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)
  • Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget headed for likely release next week; floor vote by mid-April, but House passage is uncertain
  • GOP members of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee accuse EPA of making deep cutting Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds on the expectation that Congress would restore funding
  • House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee holds budget hearing on USDA’s research agencies; Testimony here:
Events - Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • "Paddle, Float and Explore-Wisconsin’s River Communities" airs on April 5-6 on Discover Wisconsin’s broadcast network
  • Farm Foundation Forum: Geopolitical Uncertainty in Agriculture and Energy Markets; April 9, 9 AM EDT, National Press Club, Washington DC
  • April 11 USGS Capitol Hill Briefing: Trends in Nutrients and Pesticides in the Nation’s Rivers
  • Minnesota River "Blueway" project topic proposed for the agenda at April 15 Minnesota River Watershed Alliance meeting
  • Save the dates: "Urban Waterfronts 2014," November 7-8, Washington, DC
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia -
  • "Lower Mississippi River Dispatch" for March
  • Montana Watershed Coordination March 27 Watershed News
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's "River Connections" for March
  • Icarus Films announces home video release of the feature documentary "The Great Flood" (Mississippi River 1927); story: trailer below:
Other news-
  • Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center needs $50,000 by the end of June to keep the center's doors open
  • Achieving Energy and Water Security: Scalable Solutions from the Private Sector
  • Western Illinois University will begin new Ph.D. program in environmental science in fall focusing on large river ecosystems
Politics and People-
  • In South Dakota, Rick Weiland officially files as the Democrats' only candidate for this fall's U.S. Senate election
Last Word -
Wind pushes waves over the sea wall of Lake  Pontchartrain
as Hurricane Isaac makes its way inland in August 2012
"Adaptation is not just about building a higher sea wall.” - Kathleen Mogelgaard, an environmental change and security program consultant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, on March 12 at a Wilson Center panel discussion entitled "Double Dividends: Population Dynamics and Climate Adaptation” (video of panel discussion available at that link).

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