Friday, April 4, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Capitol Hill Next Week - What to Watch For
For the second of a rare three-week consecutive run, Congress will be in session next week, and we
have compiled a list of the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for the week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources. In a turn from recent practice, a majority of the hearings listed do not pertain to the fiscal year 2015 budget. They include a hearing on House bills designed to amend the Endangered Species Act, a Senate committee hearing on advanced biofuels, and a hearing on healthy forests and rural jobs. You can find all of the relevant details here.

Implementing the New Farm Bill - What's Up Next for Conservation
NRCS Conservation Landscapes
The Agricultural Act of 2014 (also known as the “farm bill”) was enacted on February 7, establishing and reauthorizing a suite of new and existing conservation programs that benefit both agricultural producers and the environment. USDA has tallied 430-plus actions that it believes it needs to take in order to implement all of the measures called for in the new farm bill. Based on a series of meetings over the past month with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Jason Weller, we have prepared a summary of USDA’s plans for implementing key conservation initiatives under the provisions of the 2014 farm bill.  The top priorities for the NRCS include getting assistance out as soon as possible this spring; moving from 23 to 13 conservation programs and increasing efficiency and productivity in the process; the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program; the 10 million-acre-per-year Conservation Stewardship Program; the $250 million-per-year authorized for the Small Watershed Rehabilitation Program; and smoothly and quickly implementing new conservation compliance rules. You can find additional conservation implementation details and links to associated USDA web pages here.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week
Water Quality -
  • House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee expects vote "soon" on bill to limit USEPA's Clean Water Act permit veto power
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency opens draft Industrial Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit for comment
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sets goal of a 25 percent reduction in sediment in the Minnesota River by 2020
  • Thaw threatens Wisconsin water supplies with manure runoff
  • Snake River (Minnesota) water quality report calls for protecting and restoring lakes and streams
  • EPA Awarding Close to $13 Million to Assist Small Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems Across the United States
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Survey: Water-related challenges, costs are concerns for many Fortune 500 companies; not enough to make them change related practices
  • Diverting Missouri River to the Red River Valley would be a huge challenge and cost between $800 million and $1.1 billion
  • FBI investigating FEMA over "unusual" changes in federal flood insurance maps benefiting oceanfront building owners
  • Critics worry Ameren’s preferred coal ash disposal site  in the Missouri River floodplain invites an environmental catastrophe
  • Army Corps to host meetings on Missouri River operation throughout watershed
  • Four-state MINK (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas) regional group holds meeting to discuss Missouri River port development
  • U.S. vessel owners, operators and mariners visit Capitol Hill offices during American Waterways Operators' annual "Barge-In"
  • Officials: Ice in Mississippi River delays barge traffic
Agriculture -
  • LEAD ARTICLE: "Plowed Under" - Massive shift underway in Northern Plains, with ramifications for water quality, food, and long-term farm viability
  • Timeline for Farm Bill program implementation beginning to take shape
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Progress on 2014 Farm Bill Implementation
  • USDA: growers intend to plant 91.7 million acres of corn in 2014, down 4 percent from 2013; should be a record-high soybean acreage year
  • Illinois farmers explore what "future may hold for corn production if current nutrient management practices are unchanged"
Climate and Weather -
April 1 U.S. Drought Monitor Map
(click to enlarge)
  • LEAD ARTICLE: UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report is among most sobering yet; predicting worst is yet to come
  • April 1 NOAA/NWS national drought update: Midwest mostly unchanged with some drought southern Illinois and southeastern Missouri; Severe Drought (D2) pushed eastward in Plains 
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center April monthly drought outlook: improvement and/or drought removal predicted for lower Great Plains, Upper (and especially Middle) Mississippi Valley
  • American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP) connects leading professionals from a variety of sectors working to increase climate resilience across the United States
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Seven central Wisconsin counties declare April 2014 as “Celebration of Grasslands Month”
  • American bald eagle makes comeback along Pittsburgh's three rivers
  • Water released into Nebraska's Platte River for rare whooping cranes
  • Kansas Secretary of State wants aggressive response to federal designation of  lesser prairie chicken as threatened
  • Rarely-observed shovel nose sturgeon seen in Arkansas River by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
  • Farms investing in habitat for bees see return on investment in less than 4 years
In the Cities -
In the States-
  • Community, environmental groups propose state bill  to amend the Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act
  • Environmental groups worry that Iowa House proposal would restrict access to water quality, land-use practice information (also see:
  • In spill's aftermath, and after weeks of study and debate, West Virginia finally has new law regulating aboveground chemical storage tanks
  • State budget puts fate of advisory Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission "in limbo"
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Report: Louisiana $50 billion coastal restoration plan would inject billions more into economy
  • Mississippi River Hydrodynamic and Delta Management Study begins to reveal complexities of  rebuilding Louisiana delta
  • U.S. Geological Survey releases coastal Louisiana marshes map, detailing habitats and vegetation types
  • As miles of Louisiana coast disappear, Vermilion Parish residents fear they’re losing their way of life, economy base
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation approves $144.5 million for Caminada Headland barrier island restoration
Resource Development -
  • Satellite imagery:  U.S. Corn Belt during growing season is most productive area in world for converting carbon dioxide, sunlight into usable energy
  • Report describes significant places, drinking water sources and natural areas threatened by tar sands pipeline expansion
Federal Budget -
  • Lawmakers agree that Administration's fiscal year 2015 budget: doesn't provide enough money for Army Corps of Engineers
  • Sens. Landrieu and Feinstein want more candid testimony from Army Corps on budget shortfalls
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) unveils Federal budget that proposes to cut $5.1 trillion over a decade
  • GOP lawmakers say Ryan budget plan will pass the House
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • St. Croix River Association Upcoming Events for April - June
  • EPA Webcast on April 7 (1 PM EDT) on waters of the U.S. proposed rule (to clarify protection under Clean Water Act for streams, wetlands)
  • The Economic Case for Restoring Coastal Ecosystems; April 9, 9:30 - 11:30 AM ET; webcast or in person (Washington, DC)
  • University of South Dakota's Missouri River Institute annual Research Symposium; April 10; USD campus in Vermillion
  • NRC Committee meeting: Beneficial Use of Graywater and Stormwater: An Assessment of Risks, Costs, and Benefits; April 16-17; Washington, DC
  • National Hydropower Association Annual Conference; April 28 - 30, Washington D.C.
  • Great Connections 2014 (stormwater) Conference; April 29 – May 1, Radisson Quad City Plaza; Davenport, Iowa
  • The State of Water Conference 2014: Minnesotans Protecting Our Lakes and Rivers; May 1-2, Brainerd, MN
  • USFWS Aquatic Nuisance Task Force meeting May 7 and May 8, Arlington, VA (Washington DC metro area).  Open to public
  • "Ensuring Water Quality in Your Watershed" workshop (Pennsylvania watersheds - statewide); Erie, Pa, June 12
  • National Conference on Mining-Influenced Waters: Approaches for Characterization, Source Control and Treatment, Albuquerque, NM, August 12-14
  • 3rd International Conference on Sustainable Remediation 2014, Ferrara, Italy, September 17-19, 2014
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • USDA ERS: number of people living in nonmetropolitan counties stood at 46.2 million in 2013; nearly 15% of US residents
  • MN DNR Commissioner Landwehr tells Mississippi Headwaters Board saving waters and forests reaps economic gains
  • National Geographic Society’s geotourism website will show tourists the experiences the Mississippi River can offer
Politics and People-
  • Fishers and Farmers Partnership for the Upper Mississippi names Steve Sodeman and Jack Lauer as its new Co-Chairs
  • Former state Sen. Gordon Howie - an independent candidate - is jumping into the South Dakota U.S. Senate race
  • State Sen. Glenn Grothman will challenge incumbent Rep. Tom Petri in Wisconsin's 6th district GOP U.S. House primary
Boy Scout Picnic
Last Word - "In South Central Nebraska, the drought of 2014 makes the drought of 2012 look like a Boy Scout picnic." - Adams County, Nebraska farmer.
April 1 Nebraska Drought Monitor Map

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