Friday, October 17, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Virtual Newspaper for an Aquatic World~
Hello From Moline's Riverfront
Greetings from what eventually turned into a sunny Moline, Illinois, along the banks of the Mississippi River, where River advocates, scientists, policy-makers and many others gathered during the week for two important, back-to-back River-related events: the Mississippi River Network's annual meeting, and the Mississippi River Conference.  The Mississippi River Network meeting saw two packed days of thinking, talking, sharing, laughing and recreating, as Network members mapped a course for the organization and the River over the next years (and decades).  The Conference, on Thursday and Friday, was co-sponsored by the Network, River Action and the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative.  It kicked off on Thursday with an informative plenary presentation by Matt Rota of the Gulf Restoration Network on Gulf of Mexico hypoxia, its connection to upstream pollution, and what can be done to reverse problematic historic trends. Thursday also included a lunchtime pictorial and musical journey down the Mississippi hosted by Dean Klinkenberg, otherwise known as the "Mississippi Valley Traveler." You can find out more about the Conference content at its web site.  The week started drearily enough but is closing with the sun shining; mirroring in the end, perhaps, the reenergized states of those facilitating, contributing to and attending the two Riverbank happenings.

USGS: Fish in One in Four U.S. Streams Contain Methylmercury at Levels Above Health Criterion
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report this week (entitled "Mercury in the Nation’s Streams—Levels, Trends, and Implications") that summarizes stream studies conducted by USGS since the late 1990s, and also draws on scientific literature and datasets from a variety of other sources.  The report assesses U.S. streams in what the agency calls a "comprehensive, multimedia" manner, and provides insights about the importance of watershed characteristics relative to mercury inputs to those streams.  The four major findings in the report include: (1) methylmercury concentrations in fish exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's criterion for the protection of human health in about one in four streams; (2) wetlands increase the amount of inorganic mercury converted to methylmercury (the form that bioaccumulates in fish); (3) existing mercury monitoring programs lack the design elements and data to link methylmercury levels to mercury sources; and (4) mercury emission reduction strategies need to consider global mercury sources in addition to domestic sources.  Click here to see the USGS report summary and overview, and to link to the report, itself. 

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Op-ed: "Opposition to proposed EPA rule is surprising"
  • Editorial: Let EPA seek cleaner water
  • Small businesses group accuses the US EPA of a ‘massive power grab’ to extend its authority over small bodies of water
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection calls on US EPA to withdraw the proposed rule redefining "waters of the U.S."
  • USGS: Fish in one in four U.S. streams contain methylmercury levels above U.S. EPA's human health protection criterion
  • Driller spills 42,000-gallon of brine into tributary of a Missouri River reservoir
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency seeks comments on Mississippi River-St. Cloud Watershed water quality report
  • This year's Mississippi River Conference addresses Dead Zone cleanup
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Supreme Court Justices vexed by Kansas - Nebraska water dispute case; ruling expected next June
  • Regulations do nothing to address the main driver of U.S. wanton consumption of water: its low price
  • EPA awards $15,000 to University of Tulsa in Oklahoma for an innovative, wireless-based water conservation project
Agriculture -
  • U.S. farmers are cutting back on spreading fertilizer this autumn in response to a drop in crop prices
  • Report: Global agricultural productivity isn’t increasing fast enough to meet the growing demand in the coming decades
  • Dennis and Elizabeth Kucinich: Iowa is perfect place to start new conversation about moving U.S. agriculture away from influence of large businesses
  • U.S. EPA approves new Roundup/2,4-D herbicide formulation for use in six Midwestern states (see below)
  • The Environmental Working Group is “deeply disappointed” in the USEPA Roundup/2,4-D herbicide formulation approval
  • Natural Resources Defense Council asks federal court to review U.S. EPA herbicide approval decision
  • The USDA has announced efforts to assist farmers in addressing the increase of herbicide resistant weeds
  • Reflection on USDA crop forecast reports: Time to Cut Back on Corn?
  • Farmland prices in Kansas rose an average of 17.1 percent per acre in 2014
  • Nagging question: Was Stanford University biology professor right on farm antibiotic overuse nearly four decades ago?
  • Whole Foods Market begins ratings program to give consumers more environmental, justice information about produce, flowers
Climate and Weather -
  • US weekly drought update: large improvements in drought and dryness on the heels of rain
    Click to enlarge
    over much of region
  • Pentagon report asserts decisively that climate change poses an immediate threat to national security
  • NASA: Earth Just Experienced the Warmest Six-Month Stretch Ever Recorded
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: summer of 2014 was hottest ever recorded in over century of record-keeping
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Studies: Drugs flushed into the environment could be cause of wildlife decline
  • Feral hogs are the latest foe being taken on by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
    Northern Long-Eared Bat
  • Havana, Illinois, on the Illinois River, "has more Asian carp than any place else on Earth"
  • Delegation to China studied Yangtze and Mississippi rivers' issues, including the Asian carp present in both
  • South Dakota GOP Congressional members urge Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw its proposed listing of the northern long-eared bat as endangered
In the Cities -
  • EPA to provide $67,000 for Technical Assistance to Springfield, Missouri for integrated planning of stormwater and wastewater projects
  • EPA Region 7 settles with city of Raymore, Missouri, to resolve Clean Water Act municipal stormwater violations
In the States-
  • Iowa's new clean water rule draws complaints from citizen activists for not going far enough to protect waters at large-scale livestock facilities
  • Accidentally released court filing reveals how company secretly funded NGO to advance favorable Wisconsin mining bill
Coastal Louisiana -
  • Louisiana public oyster-harvesting area delayed from opening "until further notice" due to low oyster numbers
  • U.S. Treasury clears way for Gulf states, local governments to get first Restore Act money
  • Louisiana hopes to receive between $1 and $4.9 billion for coastal restoration, related programs from federal Restore Act
Resource Development -
  • First large ethanol plants to produce biofuel from nonfood sources like corn cobs are starting operations in Midwest
  • After the Keystone XL pipeline’s rise to the top of D.C.’s energy agenda, the oil industry has moved on
  • 4,000 barrels of oil spill from Louisiana pipeline
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)
  • Stanford University event streaming live: New Directions for U.S. Water Policy, October 20, 12:00 p.m. ET
  • Briefing: Agricultural Runoff and Water Quality: Nutrient Loading Impacts and Management Strategies; 3pm ET, October 21, Room 385, Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, DC
  • EPA Green Infrastructure webinar series continues on November 4 (Innovative Financing) and December 2 (Localized Flood Management)
  • EPA Webinar: Creating a Green Infrastructure Plan to Transform Your Community, November 18, 3 PM ET
  • Green Lands Blue Waters 2014 Conference: Bioenergy and Sustainable Agriculture, November 19-20, Decatur, Illinois
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Waterfront Bulletin for October 2014
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch, No 260, Sunday, Oct 12: Character Education on the Mississippi River
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's October 9 and 16 Watershed News 
  • Green Lands Blue Waters update highlighting Continuous Living Cover on Mississippi River Basin agricultural land
  • Resources for the Future "Resources" issue 187
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's TUWaterWays e-newsletter for October 15
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Watershed Network News - Oct. 15, 2014
  • Gulf Restoration Network's October 16 issue of "Gulf Waves"
Other news-
  • EPA announces Request for Proposals for Healthy Watershed Consortium Grant
  • Open Space Council for the St. Louis region receives $25,000 EPA grant for Lower Meramec Watershed stewardship, education
  • Position announcement: Associate / Assistant Professor in Environmental and Natural Resource Policy, Ohio State University:
Politics and People-
  • Iowa Libertarian U.S. Senate nominee Doug Butzier died Monday when his plane crashed near Dubuque Regional Airport
  • Whether the Democrats or Republicans win control of U.S. Senate in November, the parties will continue tearing themselves apart from the inside
  • Senate Democrats throwing in the funding "towel" in their attempt to oust incumbent Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky)
  • Over 151,000 Iowans already have cast their ballots ahead of the November 4 midterm elections
Your Moment of Zen -
40,000-plus year-old cave art in a rural area on the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi.  Recently discovered, these represent some the earliest cave paintings produced by humans.

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