Friday, May 16, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Water Resources Reform and Development Act Agreement Details Released; Votes on Measure Next Week
As widely reported last week, a bicameral, bipartisan deal has been reached on a long-delayed national water resources bill (known as the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA)). A House-Senate conference committee has been negotiating to resolve the differences between a House WRRDA bill passed by that chamber in October 2013, and a companion Water Resources Development Act (S. 601) bill passed by the Senate last May. The WRRDA conference report was released by the conference committee Thursday afternoon after all but one of the members of the committee agree to the compromise language. Here is a section-by-section summary of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act Conference Report. Highlights of the agreed-upon compromise can be found here, and the Conference Report, in full, can be seen here.   We've prepared a summary of those bill provisions particularly relevant to the Mississippi River Basin, and they can been seen in this article.  The full House is planning to vote on the agreement next Tuesday, with a Senate floor vote anticipated very shortly thereafter.

Also Next Week
The House will be back from a one-week recess next week, and here you can find an overview of the House and Senate activities scheduled for the week that are relevant to the River Basin's water resources. They include some appropriation bill activity of note, as well as hearings related to activities on federal land, such as forest land and wildlife refuges.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • UT researchers: Mississippi River ecosystem's nitrate filtration systems seem to be operating at or near capacity (Link to journal article:
  • Indiana has the most coal-ash ponds of any state in the nation and a troubling number of spills
  • Sierra Club and Earthjustice release "Dangerous Waters: America's Coal Ash Crisis” covering eight states (states include  North Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia, New Mexico, Montana, Indiana, and Illinois)
  • Postponed House hearing on Obama Administration proposal to clarify Clean Water Act jurisdiction now planned for June
  • South Dakota's Rep. Kristi Noem and Sen. John Thune criticize EPA/Army Corps' proposed streams, wetlands rule
  • Montana environmental regulators required to comply with new court settlement to eliminate industrial wastewater discharge permit backlog
  • For over 12 years, Winfield, WV sewer plant has discharged more ammonia-nitrogen into the Kanawha River than permitted; without facing penalties
  • Minnesota officials: Pine River watershed has highest average water quality of nearby watersheds in Mississippi River Basin
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) hopes to include stormwater pollution provision in Senate highway bill to be debated this week
  • Iowa groups call upon state Department of Natural Resources to strengthen proposed large-scale commercial livestock operation clean water rules
  • EPA releases Draft Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criterion for Selenium--Freshwater for public comment; Federal Register notice: (Media coverage: EPA releases proposed Clean Water Act pollution control guidelines for the chemical element selenium
  • EPA updates its national recommended water quality criteria for human health for 94 chemical pollutants (Federal Register notice:  - Public comment through July 14)
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Congress expected to vote soon on a conference report for "Water Resources Reform and Development Act"
  • National Journal: WRRDA bill would fund water-infrastructure projects: "Technically It Isn't Pork, but It's Close"
  • Illinois Farmers Insurance Co. stormwater flood lawsuit could be landmark case that accelerates local efforts to deal with climate change impacts on runoff
  • Plains and Prairie Potholes webinar video on the human dimensions of natural resource conservation presented by USFWS
  • Four-minute National Association of Flood and Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA) video on using floodplains as protective community assets
  • Army Corps reports April runoff in the Missouri River basin was 96 percent of average
  • Mississippi River floods some low-lying roads and agricultural land in parts of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri
  • Project aims restore biological habitat around Upper Mississippi River's Huron Island complex
  • Groups helping to preserve Chillicothe Bottoms wetlands (Chillicothe, Illinois)
Agriculture -
  • Weed Science article: herbicide-resistant weed is capable of swiftly overtaking cotton fields
  • Herbicide-resistant weeds threaten soil conservation gains: Finding a balance for soil and farm sustainability (PDF file)
  • USGS study: Sewage sludge used as farm fertilizer can leave traces of prescription drugs, household chemicals in soil (Study abstract here:
  • Livestock producers in Illinois oppose proposed regulation that would require feedlots to register with the state
  • The OFW Law Blog: For Drought-Hit Farmers, USDA Federal Crop Insurance Can Help, But Only If You Understand the Rules
Climate and Weather -
  • LEAD STORY: Western Antarctic ice sheet collapse has already irreversibly begun, with "major consequences for sea level rise worldwide"
  • LEAD STORY: U.S. drought will persist across southern half of Kansas southward; ease across eastern Nebraska and Iowa by August
  • El Niño conditions remarkably similar to those in 1997: one of the most potent El Niño events of the 20th century 
    May 13 Drought Monitor Map
    (click to enlarge)
  • Policy makers in Minnesota and other states remain divided over how to respond to National Climate Assessment
  • Lloyd's of London, the world's biggest insurance market, urges insurers to account for climate change in their models
  • All materials from the Capitol Hill May 8 briefing, "The National Climate Assessment: Measuring Domestic Climate Impacts" now online
  • US drought update: Improvements continue across parts of Midwest, Nebraska and South Dakota; mixed bag elsewhere in the Plains
  • Illinois Infrastructure: Getting Our Water Systems Up to Snuff Amidst the Climate Crush
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Senate-House conferees agree in draft bill to Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock closure (Minneapolis) to limit Asian carp movement
  • Agencies acknowledge that elimination of Mississippi River Basin Asian carp isn't possible; but look to manage their numbers
  • Opposition raised at hearing to Fish and Wildlife Service designation of Arkansas stream habitat for freshwater mussels
  • Administration proposes new rules and policy to clarify designation, protection of threatened and endangered species critical habitat
  • Yearly Survey Shows Better Results for Pollinators, but Losses Remain Significant
  • Harvard School of Public Health study: Insecticides applied to corn, soybean seeds at root of recent honeybee colony collapses and 
  • Chemical makers say neonicotinoids aren’t to blame for bee deaths; step up lobbying to counter beekeeper calls for a ban
  • "Bee Watch" cam will broadcast honey bee hive activity at USDA Headquarters  live over the Internet 24 hours per day
  • Scientists propose classifying invasive species based on the level of impact they have on the recipient ecosystem
  • Scientists try to save endangered hemlock trees in Cranesville Swamp (Prescott County, West Virginia)
  • Groups sue Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to respond to request to protect Midwest's rusty patched bumblebee
In the Cities -
  • Resilient Cities Research Report: Pittsburgh, PA (at #5) makes Grosvenor's list of globally resilient cities (only other Mississippi River Basin city in top 50 is Chicago)
  • Des Moines, Iowa Mayor Frank Cownie looks for ways that city and region can adapt to changing climate impacts
  • EPA provides $100,000 toward Omaha, Neb. green infrastructure water monitoring network
  • EPA technical assistance funding available for communities to help meet Clean Water Act municipal wastewater and stormwater management requirements
  • Moving stormwater continues to be Baton Rouge problem
In the States-
  • West Virginia regulators plan to redesignate Kanawha River through Charleston as potential public drinking-water source and
  • Bills restricting oil and gas 'legacy lawsuits' sent to Louisiana House floor
  • Concerned for bees, Minnesota lawmakers call for aggressive pesticide review by state Department of Agriculture
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • St. Tammany Parish residents urge Army Corps, Louisiana not to consider oil driller's wetlands-mitigation permit application
Resource Development -
  • Reported spills from oil and gas well sites in North Dakota jumped significantly in 2013 map:  story:
  • Industry experts: successful gas well fracking at edge of Tuscaloosa Marine Shale formation likely would lead to more Louisiana rigs
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar above (and here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Streaming Live Friday: Brookings Institution's What’s Next in American Infrastructure? May 16, 9:30 AM EDT
  • Wetland Mapping Consortium webinar: use of land cover change data to understand wetland trends; May 21, 3 PM EDT
  • Briefing: Managing Climate Risks in the Southeast (includes Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky), May 22, 10 AM; 428 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC
  • National (climate) Adaptation Forum webinar: Community Adaptation in the City; May 22; 1 PM
  • Sustainable Site Development - A Watershed Approach to Green Infrastructure Presentation, Chicago Center for Green Technology, May 22, 6-8 PM
  • May and June St. Croix River Association-listed events
  • Ohio Wetlands Association Annual Wetlands Gala; June 7, 2 p.m., Amherst, OH
  • National Hazard Mitigation Association fifth annual symposium; June 25-26, Broomfield, Colorado
  • 7th annual Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference: “Local Action for the Common Good” - San José, Costa Rica; September 8-12
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's May 9 Watershed News
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, May 13, on the Mississippi River canoe trip from Natchez to St. Francisville, La.
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's TUWaterWays e-newsletter for May 13 (PDF file)
  • MN Pollution Control Agency's Feedlot Update - May 15; includes changes to large feedlot NPDES permit requirements

Other news-
  • Economic Research Service (USDA): Farming-dependent counties, concentrated in the Great Plains and Corn Belt, lost population between 2010-13
  • Illegal National Park Service projects harmed northeastern Iowa Mississippi River valley Native American burial site (Effigy Mounds National Monument)
  • Snarled Great Plains rail service effects ripple through agricultural economy, as oil transport takes up track space
Politics and People-
  • How gerrymandered is your Congressional district? (interactive map at the district level)
  • State elections board rejects claim that Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) is not truly a Kansas resident
  • Congress continues to hold off on votes confirming USEPA Office of Water assistant and deputy assistant administrators
  • Ben Sasse wins GOP Nebraska U.S. Senate primary, becoming the nominee and likely the next senator
  • Alex Mooney wins Republican primary in race to replace seven-term Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2)
  • Rep. Capito (R-WV) and Secretary of State Tennant (D) easily win respective West Virginia nominations for U.S. Senate
  • U.S. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE-2) survives strong challenge in Tuesday's 2nd District House Republican primary
Last Word -
Ben Cohen (left) and Jerry Greenfield
Remember these words from two old ice cream guys: if it's melted, it's over.” - Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream

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