Friday, July 18, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Ecosystem Restoration Conference to Include Mississippi River Basin and Gulf Coast Focus
The biennial Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration (CEER) will be held this year in New Orleans, Louisiana from July 28 through August 1, and will include a particular focus on ecosystem restoration in the Mississippi River Basin and the Louisiana coast. CEER is a joint effort of the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration and the Society for Ecological Restoration. To register to attend CEER 2014 visit this page.  For more details about the Conference and its agenda, see the CEER web site.

House Committee Advances Bills Restricting U.S. EPA Clean Water Activities
On Wednesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced three pieces of legislation during a Committee mark-up session. The bills would limit the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) ability to apply Clean Water Act protections to surface waters under various situations, and would impact the proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule, mountaintop removal mining waste disposal into streams, and the EPA's ability to veto certain Army Corps of Engineers permits. For more details on the bills and their intended impacts, read this summary.

Next Week in Congress
There are quite a few hearings scheduled for next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin's water resources, including hearings on flood insurance affordability, U.S. EPA regulations, FEMA's disaster response ability, and several pieces of legislation.  You can see an overview of the week ahead here.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • EPA: 'I'm going to get this right,' McCarthy says of muddled water rule
  • NRDC and the American Farm Bureau debate debating the Obama administration's controversial Waters of the U.S. proposal
  • American Farm Bureau Federation proposed clean water rule analysis targets EPA acting water administrator blog post
  • National Farmers Union asks for more clarity on several issues in Administration's proposed Waters of the U.S. rule
  • Federal appeals court upholds USEPA initiatives aimed at reducing water pollution from mountaintop removal mining (see related article, below)
  • Coal-state lawmakers plan legislative response to appeals court ruling upholding Obama administration initiatives
  • Estimated 1M gallons of saltwater leak from ND pipeline; unknown amount entered Lake Sakakawea tributary (Missouri River reservoir)
  • In fertile Missouri floodplain, farmers scratch their heads over EPA Clean Water Act proposal (Greenwire)
  • Mississippi River red oak bottomlands accrue significant amounts of nitrogen flowing downstream
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • EPA releases new Flood Resilience Checklist tool to help communities prepare for, deal with and recover from floods
  • Federal Register notice: America's Marine Highway Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment and Public Comment Period (includes Mississippi River Basin)
  • Middle Mississippi River floodwaters receding, but it will be some time before River is fully within its banks
  • Upper Mississippi River reopened to recreational vessel traffic locks reopen after being closed
  • Flood potential can be inferred as much as 5–11 months in advance using data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment  twin satellites
  • St. Francis Levee Board votes unanimously to open up access to the Mississippi River levees in Arkansas for use as trails
Agriculture -
  • Jonathan Coppess and Barrett Kirwan (University of Illinois) Policy Matters blog - “Exploring Environmental Regulation of Agriculture”
  • House lawmakers rip USDA on farm bill progress
  • Missouri and Illinois farmers have encountered half a dozen different "superweed" species immune to glyphosate
  • Social Media, Online Resources Help a Minnesota Rancher Succeed
  • 'Peak soil' threatens global food security (corn, other monocultures, lower soil fertility)
Climate and Weather -
Click to enlarge
  • American Meteorological Society's 2013 State of the Climate report (24th edition) released Thursday shows a warming planet
  • NOAA: first 6 months of 2014 coldest since 1993 in southern Mississippi River Valley, western Great Lake states
  • US drought update: dryness expands into Tennesee and Ohio River valleys; drought eases somewhat in Plains and Missouri River valley
  • Kansas "won’t be as affected by climate change as some states;" but effect on agriculture "too close to call"
  • Odds of a strong El Nino, which would have disrupted weather worldwide, are increasingly unlikely
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Kansas to develop lesser prairie chicken program in hopes of getting federal government to back off listing species as threatened and
  • Turnout "strong" for Illinois River Asian carp bowfishing tournament (Ed. note: angler turnout and carp turnout)
  • Parties moving toward consensus on short-term measures to mitigate Asian carp movement from Mississippi basin to Great Lakes
  • U.S. appeals court upholds dismissal of lawsuit seeking barriers to keep Mississippi basin Asian carp out of Great Lakes
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists seek alternatives to cranberry pollination by honeybees
  • Fish and Wildlife Service releases new policy providing incentives to voluntarily conserve species soon to be at risk of extinction
In the Cities -
  • Stewards of the Earth: Chattanooga churches going green as part of their faith
    Mississippi River at New Orleans
  • Iowa City City Council discusses Iowa River restoration and future flood mitigation plans
  • EPA awards $60,000 to New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board to implement a Green Infrastructure Monitoring Project
  • EPA $52K+ grant will help train public to monitor, track 8 urban wetland restoration projects near Lake Pontchartrain (New Orleans)
  • EPA and Groundwork New Orleans increase stormwater resilience in New Orleans by conducting neighborhood workshops
In the States-
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Massive Louisiana coastal wetland restoration project is getting its funding from a private equity firm
  • Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) proposes bill amendment to define state waters 9 miles south into Gulf of Mexico
  • Final plan now available for third phase of Early Restoration following the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill
  • Business-led coalition forms to advance sustainable restoration efforts in Louisiana wetlands, rivers, deltas and coastline
  • EPA awards $60K to Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation to protect, restore New Orleans’ south shore lake front
Forestry -
  • Louisville, Kentucky receives $400K USDA grant to increase nature-based recreational opportunities in Jefferson Memorial Forest
  • USDA awards funds to promote development of rural wood to energy projects; 5 Mississippi River Basin states to benefit
Resource Development -
  • Expansion of hydropower in United States limited by economics and policy, not a lack of physical capacity
  • Updated summary of selected USGS products on possible impacts of energy development on water resources
Federal Budget -
  • House last week passed its sixth fiscal 2015 appropriations bill (energy and water); Senate has yet to pass one
  • Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) backtracks on his commitment to put spending bills on Senate floor this summer
  • House Appropriations Committee moves FY 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill on to full House (along a party line vote of 29-19)
  • House Republican appropriators pass riders aimed at EPA regulations following Interior and Environment bill mark-up
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • NRCS to host Midwest and Plains listening sessions in July to gather input on proposed technical changes to wetland determinations
  • EPA to hold July 22, Chicago listening session on Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014 (WIFIA) loan pilot program (signed into law earlier this year as part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act)
  • July 28-August 1 Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration to Include Mississippi River Basin and Gulf Coast focus
  • Upper Mississippi River Basin Association schedules August 5-6 Upper Basin meetings in East Peoria, Illinois; details
  • Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium; National Great Rivers Research and Education Center; East Alton, Illinois, Nov. 14-15
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Link to July 8 and 16 Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's "TUWaterWays" e-newsletters:
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for July 2014
  • The Wetlands Initiative’s "World of Wetlands" July newsletter
  • Bi-weekly Green Lands Blue Waters update, highlighting Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin farm land
  • Summer edition of the Army Corps of Engineers' "Our Mississippi" magazine
  • American Farmland Trust July issue of E-news
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Feedlot Update - July 17, 2014
Other news-
  • Bipartisan sportsmen's bill becomes another election-year casualty (also see:
  • Coalition of Ohio farm, industry, government, environmental groups to roll out poll this week to assess important water issues and
  • A four-lane bridge over the St. Croix River at Stillwater, MN will ease transportation woes, but environmental impact concerns remain
  • JOB: University of Wisconsin Aquatic Sciences Center seeks an assistant director for research and student engagement
  • New USGS earthquake hazard assessment map: New Madrid Seismic Zone in Mississippi River valley remains a "bone of contention"
Politics and People-
  • A 'do-nothing Congress'? - current session of Congress is on track to pass historically fewer laws of substance
  • State Rep. Paul Hollis, a Republican bidding for Louisiana’s competitive U.S. Senate seat, withdraws candidacy
  • Which federal agencies have gained and lost the most employees since the start of the Obama administration?
  • Union representing EPA employees responds to Administrator McCarthy's support for faster firing ability
  • Over 100 Republican politicians, former elected officials endorse Paul Davis, Democratic challenger to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R)
  • Bob Perciasepe, U.S. EPA's longest-serving Deputy Administrator, will leave his post next month
  • State Sen. Chris McDaniel will challenge the Mississippi GOP Senate primary runoff results “within the next ten days”
  • Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) will likely run for chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in the next Congress
Last Word -
It is critical that the House and Senate act on the Interior bill and put the brakes on the EPA’s regulatory approach that is intent on expanding the federal government’s reach and harming our economy.” – Rep. Ken Calvert (R-California) speaking on the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which includes an amendment (or "rider") that would restrict the government's ability to implement a proposed "Waters of the U.S." rule.

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