Friday, April 25, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Capitol Hill Next Week - What to Watch For
Both the House and Senate were recessed over the past two weeks, and both are scheduled to reconvene next Monday afternoon. Among the limited number of items on the legislative agenda, House and Senate appropriations' leaders hope to move their 2015 fiscal year spending bills quickly to the floor (to the House floor as soon as next week). However, those hopes may not be realized, as the annual spending bills risk being caught up in policy fights.  House leaders have committed to debating the spending bills under what is known as an open rule, which means that House members would not be blocked from offering specific amendments (or "riders")  that either encourage or prohibit federal agencies from carrying out any number of politically problematic activities. Therefore, the appropriation measures may end up being decorated with a variety of such riders. And, ultimately, the much-hyped fast start to the appropriations process could fizzle.  On the Congressional committee front, here is a link to some other House and Senate activities currently scheduled for next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources.

Public Comment Period Opens for Proposed Waters of the U.S. Rule
On April 21, the Environmental Protection Agency and  Army Corps of Engineers officially published a proposed rule to clarify the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction for streams and wetlands across the U.S. The proposal had been released on March 25, but was not published until last Monday.  The Federal Register publication (found here as a PDF file) opened a 91-day public comment period, through July 21, during which time comments on the proposed rule may be submitted online, via email, by regular mail or by courier. Specific instructions for submitting comments can be seen in this section of the Federal Register notification (see related stories under "Water Quality," below).

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • LEAD STORY: EPA-Army Corps Proposed Rule formally published: Clean Water Act; Definitions: Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under Clean Water Act (PDF file of Federal Register notice)
  • LEAD STORY: EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday publish their proposed rule defining "waters of the U.S." (news coverage)
  • American Farm Bureau Federation: EPA Clean Water Act proposed rule "will impose unworkable regulations on the nation’s farms"
  • USEPA Nonpoint Source Success Story: Tennessee: McKnight Branch-Implementing Grazing and Erosion Control Best Management Practices
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
Mississippi River Lock and Dam
Number 2, near Hastings, Minnesota
  • LEAD STORY: Researchers say Mississippi River dams aren't to blame for starving its delta of sediment needed to stay above sea level (also see this story: and link to study abstract here:
  • Farm cooperative closes agricultural products ferry service across Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri
  • Mississippi River at Rock Island is expected to top flood stage this week, which will result in minor flooding
  • Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa hits the 17-foot minor flood stage  and
  • Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District welcomes first line tow of 2014 navigation season to St. Paul, Minnesota
  • US Water Alliance overview of EPA’s new Water Innovation Technology Blueprint, Version 2, addressing water challenges and opportunities
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan is winner of EPA 2nd annual Campus RainWorks Challenge (1st Place, Site Design Category)
  • Kansas officials look again at rerouting some of Missouri River's "excess" water westward across Kansas
Agriculture -
  • Midwest farmers, especially those with large farms, appear willing to change their farming practices to provide ecosystem services in exchange for payments
  • Cover Crops Swing Into Popularity: More than 60% of farmers have planted a cover crop at some point on their farm
  • Study: "Biofuels from crop residue can reduce soil carbon and increase CO2 emissions"
  • Agriculture Drone Business Takes Off
  • USDA Secretary announces support for 116 projects to improve water, wastewater services for rural U.S.
  • "Food freedom" bipartisanship takes hold on Capitol Hill as support for local food systems grows
Positive (red) index values indicate
an El Niño event
Climate and Weather -
  • El Niño weather phenomenon, which can trigger extreme global weather patterns, could start as early as July
  • Drought update: Drier-than-normal weather dominates Great Plains; that pattern expected to persist in Plains, Midwest into next week
  • Oklahoma's variable climate is helping scientists understand how climate change could affect farms everywhere
  • OSU Climate and Weather: Historical Trends and Future Forecasts webinar is available here: (national in scope)
  • Commentary: Consumer awareness, private initiatives, regulation, targeted investments needed to move towards sustainable water use in light of changing climate
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Asian carp DNA found in Muskingum River in Ohio (tributary of the Ohio River)
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service April 24, Whooping Crane migration status update
In the Cities -
  • Tim Kabat, mayor of La Crosse, Wisconsin: Mississippi River is key to our region's future
  • Huntington, West Virginia wins EPA-USDA 2014 Livable Communities in Appalachia competition, with focus on developing local food systems
  • Friday: HUD Secretary Donovan, and EPA Administrator McCarthy will tour sustainability investments in Memphis, TN
In the States-
  • Wisconsin municipalities gain more time, flexibility to carry out phosphorous removal from wasterwater under new state law
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • LEAD STORY: Without much legislative resistance, historic coastal damages lawsuit against major oil companies will soon be history (However, lawmakers appear to be backing off action against similar litigation filed by Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes
  • Southeast Louisiana coastal restoration, hurricane protection are new, booming 'water management' economic sector, Data Center says
  • New report: commuting statistics indicate that coastal Louisiana parishes are losing residents because of coastal erosion
  • $1.35 B Louisiana Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier-largest ever Army Corps civil works design-build project-wins outstanding achievement award
  • NOAA vessels, contractors begin 180th hydrographic surveying season; high demand for Louisiana coastal, Northern Gulf surveys and
  • USFWS report: multiplier effect of coastal restoration spending on output (4.03) and job multiplier (55) are highest for Louisiana of all U.S. coastal states (PDF file of report)
Forestry -
Resource Development -
  • Advocates on either side now expect a long wait for an Administration decision on Keystone pipeline
  • Energy and climate change experts say Keystone pipeline's political symbolism vastly outweighs its policy substance
  • EPA retroactively lowers 2013 cellulosic biofuel requirement, aligning mandated 2013 volume to actual amount produced
Federal Budget -
  • Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wants the White House to support his effort to bring back earmarks
  • Over 100  hunting, angling groups (from 11 western states) urge Congressional appropriators to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (letter:
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • 20th Arkansas River Basin Water Forum "Planning and Planting for the Future" under way
  • USEPA State Level Nutrient Reduction Strategies Webinar: Adapting Minnesota's Shoreland BMPs for Climate Change; April 24, 10 AM CT (log in as guest) 
  • April 29 WEF webcast will present recent findings on algae-based nutrient removal in waste streams; 1 pm EDT (free)
  • Webinar: The National Climate Assessment Recommendations and Implications; May 9, 11:30 AM ET
  • First Annual Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference; May 16, Tunica, Mississippi Hosted by the Arkansas Bar Association, the National Sea Grant Law Center, and the National Agricultural Law Center
  • Mississippi River/Gulf Of Mexico Watershed Nutrient (Hypoxia) Task Force Public Meeting (Little Rock, AR) - Webcast; May 21; 8:30 am-5:45 pm CT
  • Sixth Annual Mississippi River Forum Workshop (National Park Service), May 30, 8:30 AM-12:30 PM CDT, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Early Bird Discounted Registration open for Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration, New Orleans, Louisiana, July 28-August 1
  • Save the Date: Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium, Nov. 14-15, 2014, Alton, IL
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • America's WETLAND Foundation April Newsletter
  • Mississippi River Collaborative's April 2014 "MRC Currents"
  • "The Outlook" - Dovetail Partners April e-newsletter: covering active stewardship and Minnesota's county forest lands
  • St. Croix River Association's April e-newsletter
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update, highlighting Mississippi River Basin Continuous Living Cover on agricultural land
  • Find the latest and archived Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy TUWaterWays e-newsletters here:
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center April 2014 E-Newsletter
Other news-
  • Environmental Law and Policy Center op-ed: "Another View: An Earth Day scorecard for a greener Iowa"
  • Mississippi River News and Insights: Coldwater Crew wins 2013 Midwest region Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service
  • Environmentalists urge USEPA Region 4 to press for stronger federal oversight of coal combustion waste
  • People who live in US West and Midwest tend to have brighter views of their states than in other parts of country
Politics and People-
  • Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) "responded well" to Tuesday emergency heart surgery he had at Rogers, Ark. hospital
  • Republican state Senator Joe Leibham and Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris (D) enter race to fill retiring GOP Rep. Tom Petri’s 6th district U.S. House seat in Wisconsin
  • House Republicans face historic brain drain atop committees next year, as many as half of chairpersons could be forced to step down
Last Words -
Click to enlarge
"We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest."  - James Watson and Francis Crick, April 25, 1953  (On that date in 1953, the magazine Nature published an article by biologists Francis Crick and James Watson, describing the "double helix" of Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid. The figure to the left is a diagrammatic representation of that double helix from that article: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid. Watson J.D. and Crick F.H.C. Nature 171, 737-738 (1953)).
James Watson (left) and Francis Crick

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