Friday, May 9, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Climate Assessment Report Findings Have Implications for Mississippi River Basin
Tuesday saw the release of a National Climate Assessment ("NCA") report (the third since 2000) by a 44-member advisory committee established by the U.S. Department of Commerce to integrate federal research on environmental change and its implications for society. The national implications of climate change on the environment, human health and the economy that were highlighted in the NCA report have received widespread media coverage (some included, below, under the "Climate and Weather" heading).  We have compiled and summarized the Assessment's climate change implications for the three main U.S. regions that make up the Mississippi River Basin: the Midwest, Southeast (focusing on Louisiana) and the Great Plains. You can find that review here.

This Week and Next
Here are the Mississippi River Basin-related news highlights from the past seven days or so, in our weekly "What We Learned This Week" segment. Next week, the U.S. House will be recessed, but the Senate will be in session in Washington, DC, and there are a few hearings scheduled that relate to the River Basin. Here is a link to those Senate activities currently scheduled for the week.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • CEO and general manager of the Des Moines Water Works: Ag regulation would improve water quality
  • May 13 USEPA Twitter Chat: Waters of the U.S. Proposed Rule; 1-2 PM EDT
  • EPA's release of waters of the U.S. language spurs an opposition campaign from the American Farm Bureau Federation
  • Members of Western Congressional Caucus call on EPA to refrain from moving forward with its controversial "Waters of the U.S." rule
  • West Virginia Gov. Tomblin announces upcoming review of January 8 Elk River spill response
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Boxer vows to block House legislation to limit USEPA Clean Water Act veto power
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency monitoring crews begin seventh of a ten-year effort to assess condition of state waters
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • LEAD STORY: Bipartisan agreement reached on the Water Resources Reform and Development Act conference report
  • LEAD STORY: House and Senate negotiators reach agreement on an $8.2 billion bill to boost U.S. ports and waterways
  • Updated New Orleans levee system could knock down a Katrina-like storm surge, but adequacy is being questioned
  • 80-year-old Lockport Lock and Dam (Illinois River) in last phases of $148.7 million overhaul by Army Corps of Engineers
  • The Mississippi River rose above the La Crosse, Wisconsin flood stage on Sunday and in Dubuque, Iowa later in week
  • Montana Farm Bureau is taking a "serious look" at what is being proposed in the 2015 state water plan
  • Funds needed to repair Mississippi River levee could be released soon under legislation approved by Illinois House
  • Army Corps of Engineers’ Rock Island District Engineer: US infrastructure is “degrading and underperforming”
  • Mississippi River's lock and dam system headlined this year's Tri-State Development summit (Hannibal-LaGrange University, MO)
Agriculture -

  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announces progress through the first 90 days of implementing  2014 Farm Bill
  • Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing Wednesday to examine USDA’s ongoing implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill
  • USDA Economic Research Service analysis: "2014 Farm Act Continues Most Previous Trends In Conservation"
  • USDA twice-per-decade census unlocks new agricultural insights
  • 2012 Census of Agriculture: 3.2 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 914.5 million acres of farmland across U.S.
  • USDA farm census: Farmers increasingly choose renewable energy and conservation options
  • National Geographic: in long run small-scale farmers in developing world will ensure secure global food supply
  • Erosion carries tons of Iowa topsoil from its farmland each year and potentially cuts $1 billion in yield along with it
  • Ducks Unlimited and USA Rice Federation study reports that  U.S. rice production is worth $3.5B to duck conservation
Climate and Weather -
  • LEAD STORY: U.S. drought update: dryness returns "in earnest" to Missouri, Iowa, eastern Plains; large expansion in Kansas; "story is even bleaker in the southern Plains"
  • LEAD STORY: New White House report concludes that human-generated climate change is having dramatic effects on every part of U.S. (Report web page here:
  • Look for more extremes: searing heat, late-spring freezes, floods and droughts across Midwestern U.S. region that includes Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri
  • National climate change report says effects on Louisiana will be significant, costly and
  • Climate report: Kentucky and Indiana can expect more heat, bigger storms, poorer air, water quality because of climate change
  • USDA climate official on Third National Climate Assessment: climate change altering agriculture and forestry systems
  • USGS launches Internet tool to track impact of climate change on watersheds (updated National Climate Change Viewer)
  • Climate change report's Midwest projections include notable changes to weather patterns, affecting agriculture, trade 
    Drought conditions, heat and wind have combined to
    generate Plains dust storms in May
  • Soil conservation practices will be more critical as weather volatility increases with higher temperatures, rising CO2
  • WSJ: Climate Change Harming Economy, White House Report Says Urgent Action Needed; Details Effects in Every State
  • Wichita, Kansas records its earliest (May 4) 100-degree day in history
  • Extreme heat coupled with exceptionally dry conditions set temperature records, ignite wildfires in Southern Plains
  • Esri Disaster Response Program Severe Weather interactive map (to change the search terms, go to the Media Layers menu)
  • Bloomberg BNA Insights:  "A Role for Reasonableness and Physical Solution in Water Law in an Era of Climate Change" (PDF file)
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • LEAD STORY: Army Corps of Engineers posts summary of Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) Report public comments submitted (article below)
  • Army Corps finds widely diverging opinions on how to deal with invasive species in Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins
  • In Eastern Montana, confluence of Pallid Sturgeon water needs and 105 year-old federal promises to farmers raises concerns
  • USDA/DOI: Those implementing Conservation Reserve Program practices to protect, restore lesser prairie-chicken will not be subject to additional Endangered Species Act regulations
  • Fish and Wildlife Service finalizes threatened species protections for Kentucky glade cress (flower); designates 2,053 acres in state as critical habitat
  • Fish and Wildlife Service designates about 1,110 acres of critical habitat for Nebraska's Salt Creek tiger beetle
  • Site in Northeastern Iowa along Mississippi River will become state's first globally important bird area
  • Battle to protect Minnesota’s lakes and rivers from invasive species shifting to boat design
  • Fishing tournament to reduce Asian carp in the Illinois River scheduled by Illinois Department of Natural Resources
  • Minnesota wolves edge southeastward along the Mississippi River into Iowa 
In the Cities -
  • Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative Moves Headquarters to St. Louis, Missouri
  • Some of Mississippi River's mayors have plan to address River issues  (h/t @_MRNetwork)
  • Des Moines school officials want to build multi-use stadium on environmentally troubled site on bank of Raccoon River
In the States-
  • Louisiana Senate passes legislation to strip levee authority of ability to file suit enforcing laws governing coastal wetlands
  • Local groups criticize West Virginia for approving strip-mining permit located near Kanawha State Forest
  • Wisconsin state Senator plans to introduce bill requiring phase-out of microbeads in some personal care products
Louisiana Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana oyster industry representatives launch new campaign to fight sediment diversions from the Mississippi
  • Lincoln Institute of Land Policy releases "Lessons from Sandy: Federal Policies to Build Climate-Resilient Coastal Regions" (Report PDF here
  • White paper co-authored by the Environmental Law Institute and the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy: "Funding Deepwater Horizon Restoration & Recovery: How Much, Going Where, For What?"
Forestry -
  • Habitat improvement funding to benefit National Forest System lands available through Missouri River Resource Advisory Committee
  • Nearly 50 environmental groups oppose funding for farm bill's streamlined logging of forests threatened by insects and disease
Resource Development -
  • Livestock, environmental, small-engine sector ethanol opponents want Congress to reform or repeal EPA renewable fuel standard
  • Kansas has vast untapped hydropower potential, Department of Energy study says
Federal Budget -
  • The Atlantic: how states compare in terms of their reliance on federal funding
  • Earmark debate returns to Congress: Opponents insist that earmarks could make comeback, despite voter unpopularity
  • Overview of the Federal fiscal year 2015 appropriations season from Taxpayers for Common Sense
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 lists details for upcoming River Basin paddling experiences
  • May 10 hike near Le Sueur, Minnesota will explore floodplain forest along the Minnesota River
  • French Perspectives on Coastline Protection and Natural Disaster Prevention, Tulane University Law School, Weinmann Hall Room 151, May 14, 9 AM–12:30 PM; more information:
  • Webcast on living shorelines – erosion control practices to protect natural shoreline structure, function; May 14, 1 PM EDT
  • Registration for Spring 2014 Hypoxia Task Force Public Meeting open;  May 21, 8:30-5:45 pm, Little Rock, AR and webcast
  • "Rivergator Exploratory Expedition" - Middle Mississippi River float from St. Louis to Caruthersville; May 26-June 8
  • Wisconsin’s Annual Invasive Species Awareness month to be highlighted by June 10 Invasive Species Education Summit (month's complete activity calendar:
  • Fishers and Farmers Partnership Meeting - Bloomington, IL, July 23-24; contact for more information
  • The third annual Pedal the Plains Bicycle Tour will shadow the South Platte River, featuring the Pawnee National Grasslands and Jackson Reservoir; Sept. 19-21
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • May 6 TUWaterWays -water news from the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy
  • Green Lands Blue Waters bi-weekly update, highlighting Mississippi River Basin Continuous Living Cover on agricultural land
  • The spring edition of the Army Corps' "Our Mississippi" newsletter -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for May 2014
  • America's Waterway "River Currents" Newsletter - May 2014
Other news-
  • Scientists consider declaring 1950 as beginning of Anthropocene geological epoch, when humans began to permanently alter Earth
  • EPA releases EnviroAtlas Ecosystem Mapping Tool to highlight implications of planning, policy decisions on ecosystems
  • Prairie Rivers Network named National Wildlife Federation’s Affiliate of the Year for successful conservation efforts
Politics and People-
  • POLITICO: It’s 8 a.m. on a Friday. Do you know where your senators are?
  • Republican state Rep. Lenar Whitney is mulling a bid for Louisiana’s 6th District U.S. House seat
  • Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced Tuesday that he will run for governor in 2015
  • Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley has only missed 0.3 percent of votes over a 33-year U.S. Senate tenure
  • Obama announces nominees for long-vacant NOAA chief scientist position and USDA undersecretary for rural development
Last Word - 
"Where it's going to go is anybody's guess." - Dr Jan Zalasiewicz, chair of the Anthropocene Working Group of the International Commission on Stratigraphy speaking of what Zalasiewicz called "this whole Earth-system change" thing that's been happening since 1950 (see associated story, above, under "Other News")

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