Friday, September 26, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~

This Week and Next
The past seven days found the Army Corps of Engineers in GAO's proverbial doghouse, the smell of dead Asian carp wafting over the streets of Grafton, Illinois, submachine guns ordered at the USDA, and a lot of angry people taking to the streets in an effort to shift the political landscape of climate change.  You can dive into the details, below, or skip the gore, and read our pithy, one-paragraph summary here: "What We Learned This Week - 'Do you hear the people sing?'"

Next Week in Congress - Zippo.  Congress is not in session and its members are gone until November 12.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Already banned in Illinois, toothpaste brand Crest will no longer put polyethylene microbeads - under growing scrutiny for their potential to contaminate the environment - in its products
  • USEPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks exudes calm as tensions mount in farm country over a proposed clean water rule
  • Draft EPA Science Advisory Board report: proposed rule to clarify Clean Water Act protection is scientifically sound
  • National Farmers Union submits comments to U.S. EPA on proposed rule addressing Waters of the US
  • USEPA will not appeal district court Clean Water Act decision that ruled in favor of large West Virginia CAFO
  • After EPA drops its appeal, Court of Appeals extends deadline to file briefings in West Virginia agricultural water pollution case
  • Dairy Business Association op-ed: Don't blame Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) for pollution
  • Indiana's Wabash River struggles with algae, excess nutrients as work goes on to improve its water quality
  • Saving the Minnesota River: Activists, advocates seek to reach consensus on issues and solutions
  • World stands by as algae and dead zones ruin water; Expensive research and cleanup efforts make little headway
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Taxpayers for Common Sense: FEMA flood risk reduction measure eligibility changes will lead to unwise flood plain development
  • Reps. Quigley (D-IL), King (R-NY) introduce "Urban Flooding Awareness Act" to prompt NRC study on urban flooding
  • GAO: Army Corps of Engineers unable to adequately track, give Congress reckoning of, backlogged water resources projects
  • Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District awards contract to dredge the Mississippi River for $4.3+ Million
  • American Society of Civil Engineers: country has failed to adequately act upon risks exposed by Hurricane Katrina. Abstract-"Flood Risk Management: Call for a National Strategy" (news article:
  • Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) files legislation to establish new Prairie Pothole region national wildlife refuge to protect wetlands; bill: and story:
  • Waterways Council Op-Ed: Barge industry bears the cost of modernizing waterways. Washington Post:
  • DOT 12th annual state transportation statistics report: Louisiana top state in 2011 and 2012 in tons of waterborne cargo shipped New Orleans was 14th most active port (2012)
  • New Environmental Law Institute handbook: Improving Outcomes and Increasing Benefits Associated with Wetland and Stream Restoration and Protection Projects
Agriculture -
  • Groups call on USDA to provide details on how it plans to manage the farm bill's Conservation Reserve Program
  • Consumer demands are prompting some of the Midwest's large-scale farms to adjust to more food-conscious markets
  • Des Moines Register Online: Cover crops on 95% of land boost profitability as well as environmental benefits
  • Threats of lawsuits by groups who want to block Enlist herbicide could delay Dow’s hopes to have farmers planting new GE crops next spring
  • 2014 may be one of best years ever for ethanol business but industry still faces uncertainties
  • Nearly 3.5 million gallons of cellulosic biofuel produced in U.S. in August, more than all other months of 2014 combined
  • Agriculture, conservation organizations announce three-year North American initiative to help growers facing climate impacts
Climate and Weather -
Drought Study No 6. Grand Lake,
Oklahoma. Photo by Jesse Rieser
  • Weekly U.S. Drought Monitor: No significant change in drought/ dryness conditions over the Midwest,  central, northern Plains
  • Global Carbon Project reports that global emissions of greenhouse gases jumped 2.3 percent in 2013 to record levels
  • Polls show most Americans believe in climate change, but give it a low priority
  • UN Climate Summit achieved quite a bit more than expected
  • Photo exhibit depicts how 2012 drought altered the Arkansas River Basin landscape
  • Flooding Risk From Climate Change, Country by Country (3.1 million at risk in U.S.)
  • Video available from RFF forum on (climate change) Economics and the Environment, with EPA Administrator McCarthy
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Kirtland's snake
  • Grafton, Illinois residents demand action over malodor from American Heartland Fish's Asian carp processing plant
  • Center for Biological Diversity settles with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over Endangered Species Act protection for Kirtland’s snake (north-central Midwest)
In the Cities -
  • Two major sustainability efforts to promote Mississippi River commerce and health announced by Mississippi River mayors
  • La Crosse, Wisconsin offers permeable pavement tax credit to reduce volume of stormwater runoff to the City's wastewater system
  • American Society of Landscape Architects: Every city should have its own green infrastructure strategy and actionable plan to make it happen
  • Batavia, IL integrates innovative stormwater management technologies, like permeable pavement and tree cell systems, into street redevelopment
In the States-
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requests comments on water quality improvement report for Rice Creek watershed (Ramsey and Anoka counties)
Click to enlarge
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • New Orleans makes cities with "the most to lose from rising sea levels" list
  • National Academy of Sciences will take applications soon for $500 million, 30-year research initiative in response to BP oil disaster
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy:  "Community Resettlement Prospects in Southeast Louisiana" (large PDF file)
Resource Development -
  • Pennsylvania drilling regulations come after damages, as the state's trial and error approach leaves Marcellus Shale wounds
  • Frac sand mining impacts to Upper Midwestern water resources, air quality, property values take center stage in new report; story: and report:
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 26 (and every Friday): University of Illinois Weekly Friday Webinar on Farm Bill Decision Aids and Programs, 8:00-9:30 AM CDT
  • Free Webinar: Phragmites Management in the US: 40 years of Methods and Outcomes, September 30, 1-2 pm ET
  • St. Croix River art, poetry, and stories to be featured in “Reading the River,” October 2, 7 PM, ArtReach St. Croix, Stillwater, MN
  • Save the date: Free Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) briefing: Update on Cellulosic Biofuel Production, 2:30-4 pm, October 6, Capitol Hill (details will be listed here:
  • Society for Conservation Biology webinar: Making conservation policy through the law, scientists and legal strategies to protect biodiversity October 9, 2:30 pm ET
  • Ohio Wetlands Summit: Wetland Restoration, November 15, 8:30-2:30, Grange Insurance Audubon Center, Columbus, OH
  • Wisconsin Wetlands Association's 20th Anniversary Wetland Science Conference: Telling Our Stories, Madison, February 24-26, 2015
  • 52nd International
 Making Cities Livable Conference on Achieving Green, Healthy Cities, Bristol, United Kingdom, June 29 - July 3, 2015
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, No 258, Tuesday, Sept 23
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's TUWaterWays e-newsletter for September 24
  • Horinko Group "Sustainabulletin" e-newsletter: September 2014 (with coverage of UMRBA summit on Upper Mississippi commercial navigation)
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's September 25 Watershed News with coverage of the proposed state water plan
  • Gulf Restoration Network's bi-weekly e-newsletter Gulf Waves
  • Farm Foundation NFP's first issue of the Soil Renaissance Newsletter (September 2014)
  • Green Lands Blue Waters e-newsletter update, highlighting continuous living cover on Mississippi River Basin farmland
Other news-
  • Kansans will use October ("Zombie Preparedness Month") to prepare for zombie apocalypses  and other natural disasters
  • USDA's Office of Inspector General has filed a request to purchase submachine guns in the interest of staff self-protection
  • Global population may grow to exceed previous projections; stabilization unlikely this century
(click to enlarge)
Politics and People-
  • Tom Vilsack plans to stay on as USDA head, making him one of the last original Obama administration cabinet members
  • Environmental groups are fearful of Republicans winning a U.S. Senate majority in November midterm election
  • After dragging on for several weeks, Kansas' U.S. Senate race drama results in head-to-head matchup between Orman and Roberts
  • House GOP Members who vote against John Boehner for Speaker may find themselves stripped of all committee assignments
  • 113th Congress has seen just 165 pieces of legislation enacted - a low number relative to past Congressional sessions
  • Early voting started Thursday in Iowa, where absentee ballots made up 43 percent of the total cast in 2012
Your Moment of Zen -

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