Friday, August 29, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News - Friday Edition

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Report Suggests Collaborative Strategies to Reduce Mississippi River Basin Nutrient Pollution
Photo credit: University of Iowa
A U.S. Water Alliance report released last Friday highlights the collaborative strategies that might be undertaken by various Mississippi River Basin stakeholders to reduce nutrient pollution. The 28-page report, "Coming Together to Protect Mississippi River Watersheds: Agriculture and Water Sector Collaboration for Nutrient Progress," is the outcome of a year-long series of conversations among River Basin agriculture, wastewater and drinking water leaders, with the participation of environmental, academic and scientific, business, local, state and Federal agency representatives. It recommends that nutrient loading to the waters of the Basin be reduced by expanding effective watershed-based cooperative leadership and decision-making; developing and implementing market nutrient-reduction mechanisms; improving decision- and market-supporting data, monitoring and modeling; and developing "Watershed Protection Utilities" (institutions focused on cost-effective nutrient-reduction results). The report focuses on nutrient pollution that this summer contributed to a Gulf of Mexico "dead" or hypoxic zone measuring 5,052 square miles, impacting an aquatic ecosystem that supports valuable commercial and recreational Gulf fisheries (you can link to addition articles on the report, below, under "Water Quality").

The Week in Brief
For those of you wishing to avoid the dreaded details, here is our one-paragraph synopsis of the week just past: "What We Learned This Week - 'And It Was Just Right.'"

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • State of the World’s Rivers: Mississippi River Basin among world's top 10 "priority basins for remediation" due to fragmentation, poor water quality
  • U.S. Water Alliance report highlights collaborative agriculture, water, wastewater strategies to reduce Mississippi River Basin nutrient pollution  and
  • No solutions in sight for Gulf of Mexico dead zone
  • EPA region 7 administrator discusses nutrient pollution in Iowa waters during Farm Progress Show talk
  • EPA writes "Mapping the Truth" blog to correct "myths and misunderstandings" about Waters of the United States rule (related article here:
  • Farm groups use mapping technology in latest effort to block EPA from finalizing new
    Iowa map from National Pork Producers Council
    meant to show waters that could be subject to 
    new Clean Water Act rule (Photo credit: NPPC).
    Clean Water Act regulations
  • House Science Space and Technology Committee posts EPA waters and wetlands maps to its website
  • EPA says maps released by House committee are not connected to rule clarifying Clean Water Act regulatory authority
  • House committee asks EPA to release information about 2013 agency contract to create states' waters and wetlands maps
  • West Virginia plans to sample Elk and Kanawha rivers this week to see if January’s chemical leak affected fish health
  • Deadly Naegleria fowleri amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana
  • Monitoring of Ohio River continues after last week's Duke Energy plant oil spill; spill was larger than first reported
  • ExxonMobil Pipeline Company agrees to pay a civil penalty related to 2012 crude oil spill from pipeline near Torbert, Louisiana
  • Tyson Foods could lose $millions in government contracts if found guilty in EPA criminal probe of Missouri wastewater release
  • National Environmental Education Foundation launches algal bloom photo conference to help document U.S. algal blooms
  • Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization is updating its Watershed Management Plan; seeks public comment
  • EPA awards $9,165,000 to Arkansas Natural Resources Commission for wastewater system improvement projects
  • EPA awards $100,000 to Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality for water quality management planning
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • University of Iowa's $25.7 million flood mitigation construction continues on schedule (Iowa River)
  • Indiana University research: "Goldilocks plant growth" may make river deltas resilient to environmental factors that threaten their existence
  • Army Corps of Engineers installs new concrete stabilization mats on Mississippi River bank (New Orleans area)
  • Greenup County, Ky. residents may be barred from buying federal flood insurance because local officials haven't met program requirements
  • Missouri River might help alleviate grain railroad backups, but infrastructure spending, water allocation changes may be needed first (see related story under "Resource Development," below)
  • H.R. 5189, Energy and Water Research Integration Act, would advance understanding of, research in energy-water nexus
  • New Alliance for Water Efficiency campaign encourages rate reform to promote water conservation
  • Report: Large-scale dams are likely having a detrimental impact on water quality and biodiversity around the world
Agriculture -
  • Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy editorial: "Right to farm" - Corporate wolves dressed as local sheep
  • U.S. corn and soybean crops are likely to top records this year, reflecting favorable growing season weather
  • Even though crop prices are falling, costs to grow next year’s crops is not; will push many U.S. farmers into the red
  • The August 21 USDA Conservation Compliance for Specialty Crop Producers webinar is archived here:
  • Corn grit weed blaster tested in Minnesota farm fields showing promise as an alternative to herbicides
  • Commodity prices have taken a noticeable dip this past year; farmland values will not necessarily follow, however
  • "Policy Matters" - Evaluating Use of Conservation Policies for Pollinators
Climate and Weather -
  • U.N. draft report cites “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts" of climate change
  • Shorter winters in Rockies could limit supplies for downstream users (i.e., Missouri River Basin)
  • Obama administration working on global non-binding climate accord to “name and shame” countries into reducing carbon emissions
  • Washington Post editorial: "The country’s sinking climate debate"
  • NOAA U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook report through November 30: drought alleviation in Plains expected
  • Weekly U.S. drought update: Midwest dryness retreats, except in Missouri, where it expands; drought persists in Oklahoma and Kansas
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for September (will be published on Friday, August 29)
Mississippi Gopher Frog
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Alliant Energy under mandate to develop fish passage on Wisconsin River at Prairie du Sac dam; Asian carp raising issues
  • Judge upholds FWS designation of 6,477 acres of private Mississippi and Louisiana land as frog's critical habitat
  • Researchers find about half as many mussels as in the past during August 2014 Iowa River survey
  • Vanishing  greater sage grouse ignites debate over endangered species rules
  • Environmental groups call for federal protection for monarch butterfly, at risk from rise of genetically modified crops
  • Illinois expands its state wildlife code to protect black bears, gray wolves and cougars
In the Cities -
Concept drawing of Tulsa’s new gathering place
  • Chlorination of ammonia-laden Des Moines and Raccoon rivers' waters may have contributed to trihalomethanes in Ankeny, Iowa drinking water
  • Groundbreaking planned for "A Gathering Place of Tulsa," a "world class" 100-acre waterfront park along Arkansas River
  • Old coal-mining towns in Tennessee are taking sometimes desperate measures to improve their economies
In the States-
  • Iowa farm groups launch initiative to accelerate pace and scale of water-quality improvements across state
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requests comments on Tiered Aquatic Life Uses addition being considered for state water quality standards
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • "Losing Ground" - this is what Coastal Louisiana stands to lose in the next 50 years
    Coastal Louisiana Land Loss Analysis (source:
  • River Diversions And The Fate Of Louisiana's Coast
  • Water Institute of the Gulf-focused primarily on Louisiana coastal research-looks to expand scope beyond state borders
  • EPA awards $485,000 to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for testing water quality along state’s Gulf Coast
Resource Development -
  • Environmental Protection Agency sends final Renewable Fuel Standard to the Office of Management and Budget, triggering a broader review of proposed cut
  • Arkansas emergency officials' records: Up to 33 Bakken oil trains pass through Arkansas weekly
  • New York Times: Grain piles up, waiting for a ride, as trains move bumper crop of North Dakota oil
Federal Budget -
  • Nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office raises its projection for this fiscal year's federal deficit to $506 billion
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here can be viewed in the on-line calendar (here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Free webinar series (September 4 and 11): Tips to engage non-operator landowners in natural resource conservation
  • Webinar: Is a Water Quality Trading Program Right for Your Facility? September 11, 1-2 PM ET
  • U.S. Geological Survey announces Sept. 17-18 Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science meeting
  • International Water Conference; November 16-20, San Antonio, Texas
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's August 28 Watershed News
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, No. 254, August 25 - "Search for the Healthy City"
  • Green Lands Blue Waters Update, highlighting the advancement of Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's August 27 TUWaterWays e-newsletter
Other news-
  • Memo to West Virginia's leaders: Not all industry hates EPA
  • Obama hits the gas on regulatory initiatives, including EPA climate and water rules
Politics and People-
  • New York Times’ Upshot model now increases Republicans’ odds of winning control of
    Click to enlarge
    U.S. Senate to 64 percent
  • Scott Walker - Mary Burke, Wisconsin Governor's race outcome could shape U.S. political scene for years to come
  • Command of Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi Valley Division transfering from Peter DeLuca to Michael Wehr effective August 29
  • Following days of outcome uncertainty, Republican nominee to represent Wisconsin’s 6th District is state Sen. Glenn Grothman
  • Incumbent Rep. Scott DesJarlais officially wins GOP Tennessee 4th District primary, beating state Sen. Jim Tracy by 38 votes
  • Former Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell (R) wins Okla. GOP primary runoff; expected to succeed Senate nominee James Lankford in the House
  • 7Rivers Alliance (Upper Mississippi Valley) announces hiring of Lisa Herr as its new executive director
  • House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson announces new House Agriculture Committee Minority staff
  • There aren’t many Plains States' competitive political races, but here are five to watch in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas
  • The top five "races to watch" in the Midwest are in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin
Your Moment of Zen -
In north Omaha, Nebraska, art briefly brings condemned homes to life - public art created by Watie White 
and placed in the windows of condemned houses tell the stories of those who lived there. 
Photo credit: Watie White.

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