Friday, September 19, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

Government Funded through December 11; Congress Leaves Town
Congress wrapped up an eight-day work session Thursday, after the Senate passed a bill funding the government
and authorizing a narrow slice of President Obama’s strategy against Islamic State militants, each for less than three months. The stop-gap funding bill or "Continuing Resolution" (passed by the House on Wednesday) was one of Congress' last orders of business before adjourning until after the November 4 midterm elections. The bill makes very few changes to existing spending amounts, maintaining funding at an annual level of $1.02 trillion through December 11. Apart from making a few changes such as keeping NOAA's weather satellite programs funded and allowing for continued collection of national park fees, the measure keeps in place all existing policy riders.

Congress is scheduled to return on November 12, when (apart from the ongoing Middle Eastern intervention debate) two issues will largely occupy its time through the remainder of the year.  First, members will need to work out the terms of legislation to fund the government beyond December 11.  Both the Senate (Sen. Barb Mikulski) and House (Rep. Hal Rogers) Appropriation Committee chairs would like to see an omnibus spending bill incorporating the negotiated elements of the separate appropriations measures already drafted by their respective committees. Second, Congressional committee staff will be working diligently behind the scenes to lay the groundwork for any early 2015 legislative initiatives that take shape after the midterm election dust has settled.  Stay tuned.

Abridged News
If you prefer your news in a more abridged format, look no further than here: What We Learned This Week - "Say 'Ah' . . . . or 'Uh' or 'Um'"

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Beer battle brewing over Obama administration clean water rule defining authority to regulate bodies of water
  • Attorneys general from seven states (NY, IL, CT, MD, DE, RI, WA), and District of Columbia express support for controversial Obama administration proposed water rule
  • State agriculture commissioners unanimously vote to call for Obama administration to withdraw controversial Waters of the U.S. proposal
  • Iowa's agriculture commissioner: EPA proposed Waters of the U.S. rule could reverse voluntary work to improve waterways
  • Quad City Times Op-ed: "Iowa should invest in water quality"
  • Over 30 years, the Sauk River Chain of Lakes (Minnesota) has undergone a transformation for the good, but challenges remain
  • Private well water nitrate testing program expands in Dakota County, Minnesota
  • Mankato State University research identifies chemicals that may effectively remove sediments from construction runoff
  • Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District: main break last week in Chesterfield caused 11 million-gallon sewage discharge
  • Study of tainted drinking water shows that contamination most likely caused by leaky wells, not  hydraulic fracturing (study abstract:
  • EPA publishes its biennial preliminary plan for studying and possibly regulating industrial wastewater discharges
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Government Accountability Office facilitated panel: Army Corps of Engineers actions during 2012-2013 drought, Missouri River 2011 flood were appropriate
  • North Platte Natural Resources District looks to offset North Platte River impacts from groundwater well development
  • Iowa City residents, politicians discuss Iowa River,Coralville Reservoir flooding with Army Corps of Engineers
Agriculture -
  • USDA announces award of $15.7 million in Conservation Innovation Grants to 47 organizations (here are the 17 USDA CIG grant awards announced within the Mississippi River Basin
  • Over 800 million people worldwide do not get enough to eat, even as the world produces more than twice as much food as it needs 
  • Iowa’s cropland values fell 3.4 percent during the last six months
  • House Agriculture Subcommittee holds hearing to examine benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture, rural America (see related link below)
  • National Association of Conservation Districts statement before House Agriculture Subcommittee on  benefits of promoting soil health
  • Presidential executive order requires detailed plan by February to implement national strategy on antibiotic resistant bacteria
  • Shipping companies may miss out on exports from record U.S. grain crop as shale-oil boom clogs up rail lines to ports
  • USDA approves genetically modified corn and soybeans, clearing path for new herbicide
Climate and Weather -
  • NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center: 2014 was warmest summer, globally, since record collections began in 1880 (related article:
  • US drought update: Another week of beneficial moisture led to drought improvement in Midwest and Great Plains  trend should continue through the fall
  • AgWeb: Watch how U.S. temperatures have changed over this past century
  • Georgetown Climate Center Releases 100 Recommendations to Improve Federal Programs to Prepare for Climate Change
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Syngenta asks U.S. EPA to increase allowable levels of neonicotinoid pesticides amid growing bee decline concerns
In the Cities -
  • Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative mayors meet  in New Orleans to discuss climate, commerce, sustainability (media release here:
  • Mayors seek to grow new fund to provide seed money for sustainable waterfront development along the Mississippi River
In the States-
Forestry -
  • DuPont to pay $1.85 M fine to resolve alleged herbicide injures to trees in several states, including Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin
Resource Development -
  • House passes two GOP legislative packages to approve Keystone XL oil pipeline, boost domestic energy production (H.R. 2 and H.R. 4
  • American Petroleum Institute, renewable energy groups accuse Environmental Protection Agency of “playing politics” with nation’s ethanol mandate
Federal Budget -
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)
  • September 25 webinar will provide overview of how information can be obtained from NOAA’s climate service offices
  • Annual St. Croix River Association Fall Gathering, Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, Grantsburg, WI, October 4
  • Registration Open until October 10 for December 8-12 USEPA Water Quality Standards Academy in Washington, DC
  • American Farmland Trust’s Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference, Lexington, Kentucky, October 20-22
  • Fall 2014 Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force Meeting (attend in person or via webcast), October 21, Godfrey, IL
  • October 27 Webinar: accessing Upper Mississippi River Restoration-Long Term Resource Monitoring Program data using visualization tools
  • Association of State Floodplain Managers 2015 conference: Call for Presenters Open - Deadline October 31
  • May 6-8, 2015 Ohio Stormwater Conference - Call for Abstracts and Posters - Deadline November 10, 2014
  • Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge annual migrating waterfowl, fall color bus tour; Nov. 15
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • American Farmland Trust September e-newsletter
  • Green Lands Blue Waters update highlighting Mississippi River Basin agricultural land Continuous Living Cover efforts
  • EPA’s Nonpoint Source News-Notes, Issue #96 (September 2014)
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's TUWaterWays news for September 16
  • "Lower Mississippi River Dispatch" No 257, Sept 18
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's September 18 Watershed News
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Watershed Network News - Sept. 18
Other news-
  • Nearly 18,000 rubber ducks made their way down North Platte River in annual United Way rubber duck dash fundraiser
Politics and People-
  • Farm Groups Stick With Senate Republicans Despite Farm Bill Opposition
  • NRDC names Rhea Suh, Interior Department's assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, as new president
  • Kansas Supreme Court rules that Democrat Chad Taylor’s name must be removed from the ballot for U.S. Senate; a blow to Sen. Pat Roberts’ (R-Kan.) chances for reelection
  • Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) launches second phase of his investigation into the U.S. EPA
  • Eight work-days after a five-week summer recess, U.S. House and Senate adjourn until after the midterm elections
  • Senate sets November 12 as date for returning for post-election lame duck session
Your Moment of Zen -
Yellowstone National Park

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