Friday, September 12, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

"Lame duck" tango move
Last Week, This Week and the Remainder of the Year
Last week, in a nod to a look back to 1984 climate news, we learned that "Ignorance is Strength," and that sometimes a political advert is really just a Jeep commercial in disguise.

Next week could be the last that Congress is in session before the November 4 mid-term elections. And if some Congressional leaders are to be believed, even afterward, during the lame duck session, not much is going to happen before a new Congress is seated in January. After Congress returns in mid-November, there will really only be one key item for its members to attend to in 2014: averting a federal government shutdown after December 11: the expiration date of the proposed stop-gap Continuing Resolution that the House released on Tuesday.  Following a last-minute White House request to include authority to take action against the Islamic State in the bill, Congressional work on the government funding measure was put off until next week. That delay further condenses the tight time frame lawmakers already faced, and the current two-week session (scheduled to end next week) may be extended into the week of September 29, as Congress struggles to reconcile the Obama Administration request for additional military spending with varying opinions regarding increased intervention in the Middle-Eastern conflict.  Here is a link to the fairly thin list of Mississippi River Basin-related Capitol Hill happenings currently on tap for next week.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
"Waters of the United States Rule"
  • House easily passes H.R. 5078 (bill: - Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act of 2014 (262-152 roll call vote breakdown: articles on bill passage: and
  • Thirteen of the 35 Democrats voting for bill blocking Waters of the U.S. rule are House
    Getty Images
    Agriculture Committee members
  • Obama Administration strongly opposes, threatens veto of House bill blocking regulations, guidance to clarify Clean Water Act jurisdiction (story here:
  • PGA of America, National Club Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association fight Waters of the U.S. proposal
  • USEPA releases seven-page series of questions and answers explaining controversial Waters of the U.S. Rule
  • EPA official: Obama administration moving ahead with finalizing waters of the U.S. rule; won't be protecting new kinds of water bodies
Other Water Quality News
  • New USGS study spanning two decades: pesticides in many U.S. streams continue to occur at levels of concern for aquatic life - striking decline in dangers to humans
  • USEPA Region 7 Administrator delivers keynote address on “Bridging Troubled Waters - the Outlook for Water Quality and Agriculture”
  • Federal judge dismisses environmental group's lawsuit seeking to establish logging road runoff as industrial source of water pollution
  • Cargill rejects calls to move or close Arkansas hog farm over Buffalo River pollution concerns
  • Heavy chlorination, extensive sampling follow in wake of of amoeba discovery in portion of St. John the Baptist Parish water system
  • Companion Senate and House  bills would direct EPA to release an interim health advisory for microcystin in drinking water
  • EPA announces $140,000 settlement with mining company for Clean Water Act violations in Allegheny River Watershed
  • House Republicans say the Interior Department's Inspector General is withholding information re: mountaintop removal mining stream buffer zone rule
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Environmental groups blast Ohio EPA over its plans to streamline wetland permits
  • Several Missouri streams and rivers at or near flood stages
  • Number of Mississippi River barges arriving in Winona, Minnesota in August was higher than seen in over a decade
  • Army Corps' forecast  calls for higher fall releases from Missouri River reservoirs to enable sufficient 2015 system capacity
  • University of Iowa adds a second green roof (600 square feet) on campus; more green roofs planned
  • American Rivers op-ed in Quad-City Times: "Mississippi River has room to improve"
  • Pueblo Chieftain Editorial: For the "greater good" "Fountain Creek needs effective flood control desperately" (i.e., dam or dams) (Arkansas River Basin)
  • In wake of near-record Iowa River flooding this year, levee district near Wapello, Iowa pushes to improve infrastructure
  • Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District officials concerned about potential catastrophic floods unless conditions change
  • Army Corps and Upper Minnesota River Watershed District sign agreement for Marsh Lake ecosystem restoration project
  • Clarksville, Indiana officials reach out to Army Corps for help with erosion along Ohio River
  • Legislative task force meeting to streamline diversion canal project that would reroute Comite River water to Mississippi River
  • Indiana Corn Growers, Soybean Alliance host Ohio River Lock Tour
  • Cost estimate for four Tulsa-area low-head dams on Arkansas River goes up by $80 million
Agriculture -
  • USDA providing $328M in conservation funding to help landowners protect, restore key farmlands, grasslands and wetlands through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) (also see this AP article:
  • EPA Region 7 Administrator to Nebraska Department of Agriculture Director: EPA not a 'threat' to agricultural producers
  • Corn has been king for almost a decade with help from Congress.  That era is set to end.
  • USEPA is working to update herbicide labels, but says that herbicide makers need to help farmers fight resistant weeds
  • Flooding that began in late June will lead to millions of dollars in lost crop value for Arkansas farmers
  • Pesticide drift from conventional farms is a persistent problem for organic and small farms (Iowa case study)
  • High-tech seeds that produce big crops also create an unhealthy landscape for bees (Minnesota case study)
  • In shadow of oil boom, North Dakota farmers fight contamination, offer test case of long-term wastewater spill effects
  • Farm state senators sound alarm about delayed crop shipments, ruined crops at Senate committee hearing
  • No crash in U.S. farm land prices seen despite tumbling grain prices
  • Government Accountability Office: federal government could save hundreds of millions of dollars annually by reducing crop insurance premium subsidies
  • Group spends $10.7m for two farms in Louisiana; one in Nebraska, totalling 2,130 acres, aiming to benefit from farm rents as well as market appreciation
June-August Precipitation as a Percent of Average
(click to enlarge)
Climate and Weather -
  • Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984 (WMO report:
  • Top United Nations official: climate summit later this month will be "major turning point" in climate change fight
  • US weekly drought update: improvements seen in Nebraska, Kansas, northern Wisconsin, western Kentucky and adjacent Tennessee
  • Long-term weather forecasters downgrade likelihood of a strong El NiƱo developing this fall
  • Western Governors' Association announces launch of new initiative to prepare for, respond to drought impacts
  • Nearly an inch of snow at Rapid City, ND. The earliest recorded snowfall going back to 1888.
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Audubon Society study: 314 North American bird species at risk from climate change; many facing extinction
  • On heels of Audubon report on birds at risk (see above), U.S. government report finds some of country's birds species in moderate to steep decline
  • Gov. Steve Bullock releases Montana sage grouse conservation strategy: "Montana Sage
    dusky gopher frog
    Grouse Habitat Conservation Program"
  • US FWS accepting public comment until Nov. 10 on newly-released draft recovery plan for endangered dusky gopher frog
  • House Natural Resources Committee holds hearing on six bills "aimed at updating and improving the Endangered Species Act"
  • House passes bill to reauthorize Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp (fundraising postal stamp-previously passed by Senate)
  • Minnesota lake first in US to use product that utilizes dead bacterial cells to kill zebra mussels (Hennepin County)
  • Officials confirm that zebra mussels have been found in another lake in the western Twin Cities (MN) area
  • Industry officials blast proposed Fish and Wildlife Service protections for bat species and Endangered Species Act at House field hearing
In the Cities -
  • City leaders nationwide are preparing for climate change without using the term, avoiding politics and partisanship
  • Memphis, Tennessee region is poised to make a huge leap forward in developing a regional greenway and trail system
  • Orleans Parish Sewerage & Water Board: New Orleans drinking water odor coming from algae growing in the Mississippi River
In the States-
  • Recount vote results on Missouri "right to farm" constitutional amendment expected to be announced next Monday
  • Projected shortfall for the next two-year Wisconsin state budget ending in mid-2017 nearly $1.8 billion
  • Daily Iowan Editorial: Iowa needs to strengthen environmental standards
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • NPR: For Lack Of Mississippi Silt, The Gulf Is Losing Coastal Land
  • First in a series of Reuters articles examines the phenomenon of rising seas, and its effects on the United States
  • Mother Jones: Gulf coast ecosystems were supposed to rebound after the BP oil spill. They haven't.
  • Federal magistrate judge: agreement between BP and land trust doesn't require BP to remove all oil from Gulf Coast waterfront property
Forestry -
  • Forest Service Chief defends proposed USFS groundwater directive before skeptical House Agriculture subcommittee
Resource Development -
  • Minnesota to take its time studying crude oil pipeline alternatives to route near Mississippi River headwaters
  • Yale and Penn State studies exploring gas drilling health and water issues paint very different potential impact pictures
  • With plans for a new crude oil pipeline on the table, review indicates that Iowa's pipeline safety record has been "spotty"
  • EPA regulation setting required volumes of ethanol, biodiesel in fuel (Renewable Fuel Standard) sent to White House OMB for review
Federal Budget -
  • House GOP offers stopgap federal funding bill to run government through Dec. 11; also reshapes future budget landscape - article:; Appropriations Committee release and links:
  • House Republican leaders delay vote on a stopgap spending bill until next week
Events -  Information on all past and future events listed here each week can be viewed in the on-line calendar, located above and to the right (and here as a stand-alone calendar)
  • Farm Foundation Forum: Water quality, agriculture and Waters of the United States; Sept. 17; 9-11 AM, Washington, DC
  • Precision Agriculture Forum, September 18, 4:30 – 5:30 PM (with reception to follow) Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, Washington, DC
  • National Academies meeting: Reinvesting in Inland Waterways: What Policy Makers Need to Know; Sept 18-19, Washington, DC (closed to the public; closed session summary posted after the meeting)
  • National Water Quality Monitoring Council Webinar: "Continuous Monitoring for Nutrients: State of the Technology and State of the Science" Sept 24, 1 PM ET
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No 256 - Tennessee Williams Festival, Oct 3-4 in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi
  • Fall Seed Harvest, Dixon Waterfowl Refuge at Hennepin & Hopper Lakes, October 4, 9 AM CT
  • Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium, November 14-15, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, East Alton, Illinois
  • National Working Waterfronts & Waterways Symposium; Tampa, FL on November 16-19, 2015
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's TUWaterWays e-newsletter for September 10
  • University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute and Sea Grant Institute "Aquatic Sciences Chronicle" 2014, Vol. 3
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Waterfront Bulletin for September 2014
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's September 11 Watershed News
Other news-
  • Federal Railroad Administration proposes new rules requiring train operators to secure hazardous materials transported by rail
  • Interior Secretary: 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill prompted reorganization of Department of Interior with eye toward safety
  • Stillwater, MN (St. Croix River), Parkville, MO (Missouri River), Franklin, TN (Harpeth River), Oxford, MS (Yazoo River Basin) named to top 20 “Best Towns for Fall Colors” in US
Politics and People-
  • Republicans are putting together an agenda for the first 100 days of 2015 in case they win control of the Senate
  • Mississippi Supreme Court will hear Senate candidate Chris McDaniel's legal challenge of his Republican primary defeat
  • Democrat Chad Taylor asks state Supreme Court to remove him from the Kansas U.S. Senate ballot
  • Nebraska Lt. Gov. Lavon Heidemann is stepping down from his post and out of the race for re-election
  • Minnesota Council that recommends how to spend $100 million on game, fish, wildlife habitat selects new executive director
  • Lawmakers are privately saying that the post-election, lame-duck work session will be completely uneventful
  • Gallup poll: 14% of Americans approve of how Congress is handling its job
  • Over 220 administration political appointees await Senate confirmation, including several Environmental Protection Agency political leaders
  • 50 richest members of the U.S. Congress: All are white, women comprise 18 percent, 20 Democrats and 30 Republicans
  • Sunlight Foundation: "Women make up more than half the U.S. population, less than one fourth of U.S. House witnesses"
Your Moment of Zen -
Two common kingfishers fight over a perch (Photo credit: Shams ul haq Qari)

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