Friday, November 21, 2014

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~
French Creek
This Week and Next
It was a surprisingly busy week on the River Basin-related news front, and you can find a sizable portion of that news outlined below. The week saw a premature winter freeze bring an early end to the Upper Mississippi River's navigation season, and the U.S. House pass bills (over a Presidential veto threat) that would restrict some Environmental Protection Agency activities.  Here is our one-paragraph summary of "What We Learned This Week" ("Resistance is Futile"), in case you find the volume of news below particularly daunting.

Next week Congress will be recessed for the Thanksgiving holiday, and so will your FNB ("Friendly Neighborhood Blogger), who is traveling north to Pennsylvania and French Creek - the practically pristine headwaters of the Mississippi River watershed.  The Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News editorial team promises to return in early December, as does Congress - primarily to work on a way to keep the government funded and running beyond December 11.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • As controversial EPA/Army Corps water rule looms, GOP prepares a legislative assault
  • End of comment period doesn't stop war of words over Obama Administration's proposed Clean Water Act rule
  • Funding opportunity: US EPA seeks research proposals regarding how changes in water quality can be valued at appropriate spatial scales
  • State of the art Thomas More College Biology Field Station works to improve Ohio River quality
  • Environmental groups threaten to sue Kentucky coal mining company for thousands of Clean Water Act violations (see related story, below)
  • Kentucky environmental regulators defend their enforcement record against charges from four environmental groups
  • Clean Wisconsin report: "Groundwater contamination and the 'beneficial reuse' of coal ash in southeast Wisconsin"
  • Illinois county board votes to rezone farmland so it can be used for coal mining waste storage, despite water quality concerns
  • Interior Department presses for more rigorous oversight of flooded Fairmont Mine Pool (Monongahela River Basin) story: report:
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network sues Army and its contractor over dumping of explosive chemicals into Holston River near Kingsport, Tenn.
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
Jordan Aquifer (Source: USGS)
  • Ice surrounding locks and dams near Minnesota’s Twin Cities forces earliest Upper Mississippi River shipping season closure on record
  • Army Corps of Engineers' head touts watershed-based approach to planning
  • Mississippi River barge traffic moving well despite Army Corps' construction project that prompted agricultural groups' concern
  • Frustrated Minnesota farmers turn to barge transport as an alternative to bottlenecked and costly rail options
  • CBS News 60 Minutes: much of the world is in danger of a groundwater overdraft
  • Growing water use threatens to strain Upper Midwest's Jordan Aquifer; Iowa regulators are considering restricting its use
  • USDA survey: 55.3 million acres of irrigated U.S. farmland in 2013 closely matches acres in 2008 survey
  • PIANC MarCom Working Group report released: "Masterplans for the Development of Existing Ports"
  • Draft of Colorado's first water plan approved by state's Water Conservation Board  (western side of Continental Divide holds 11% of Colorado’s population; eastern side consumes 70% of its water)
  • State Associations release Clean Water Act-Safe Drinking Water Act collaboration toolkit; roll-out webinars planned
Agriculture -
  • Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Tex.), next House Agriculture Committee chairman: "It’s never too early to start on the next (2019) farm bill"
  • The Urban-Rural Divide: Lessons from the midterm elections relating to national nutrition
    programs, global food security
  • U.S. farmers are about to reap a bumper harvest, not just in crops but also in billions of $ in new subsidies
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s 2014 Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs
  • USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service issues guidance on administering conservation initiatives in FY 2015
  • Millions of acres of U.S. farmland have been affected by herbicide-resistant weeds, rendering some fields unfarmable
  • St. Louis Fed Bank: Farmland values rose in the third quarter in parts of the Midwest and southern U.S. despite declining farm incomes (These findings contrasted with reports from other Fed banks in the Midwest (Chicago and Kansas City) that showed declines in their districts’ farmland values in the third quarter.)
  • Purdue University agricultural economist believes the decade-long increase in farmland values might soon be over
  • With the precipitous downward trend in corn prices, can U.S. farmers afford to stay loyal to corn next year?
  • There are fewer cattle in the United States than at any time since 1951; including Plains' herd size drop
  • Your next farmer's market could be in your computer
  • Officials approve 8,800-head dairy operation west of Willmar, west-central Minnesota
  • New York Times op-ed: A creative new approach to Midwestern agriculture, involving indigenous prairie plants, has the potential to unite farmers and environmentalists
Climate and Weather -
  • US drought update: Bitter cold along with some snow over the central U.S. afforded little, if any, drought relief
  • GAO: Climate change could substantially increase losses in taxpayer-backed flood and crop insurance programs in coming decades (story:
  • With a fifth record hot month on the books, NOAA says 2014 is likely to be the Earth's hottest year despite US cold
  • USDA grant used to help create carbon credit market program; could boost Prairie Pothole grassland conservation and
  • CO2 emissions must be zero by 2070 to prevent climate disaster, UN says, and ‘negative emissions’ are needed globally
  • Ethereal beauty: A year in the life of the Earth's carbon dioxide (courtesy NASA)
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
(click to enlarge)
  • Eastern Tallgrass Prairie and Big Rivers Landscape Conservation Cooperative funds five projects to fill science information needs
  • Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network develops 5-year strategic plan to help conserve, maintain key landscapes and seascapes
  • 'Explosion' of gill lice besets Wisconsin's iconic brook trout
  • Updated International Union for the Conservation of Nature list: Over 22,000 species are threatened with extinction
  • After quarantine, bison find a new home in northern Montana's prairie lands
  • House passes bill to amend Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp Act, increasing funding for conservation easement purchases
  • Army Corps of Engineers considering plans to block path of Asian carp on the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Illinois
  • Kentucky hopes you'll eat its invasive Asian carp
  • Illinois Conservation Police arrest commercial fisherman accused of illegally selling live Asian carp
  • Lac Qui Parle Wildlife Management Area (Minnesota) wildlife manager sees Canada goose migration stopover changes, flyway widen
In the Cities -
  • New report explores state of land banks in 2014, and how they help address impacts of vacant, abandoned, tax-delinquent properties
  • Under a consent decree for Combined Sewer Overflows, Indianapolis looks for creative solutions
  • Vicksburg talking with state, federal agencies about running Mississippi River Museum
  • Ohio River Valley communities leverage their water resources to drive economic prosperity
2015 River of the Year Nominees
In the States-
  • Three Mississippi River Basin streams in the running for "2015 River of the Year" in Pennsylvania
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Plaquemines Parish, La., officials vote down bid to drop 21 environmental damage lawsuits filed against oil and gas companies
  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announces next $100 million in awards for Gulf Coast restoration projects
Resource Development -
  • Random shallow groundwater tests in Northern Plains oil region show no evidence of contamination from energy boom
  • The biggest product of the U.S. petroleum industry is not oil, gas or condensate but wastewater
  • Iowa awaits good and ill ramifications of possible frac sand mine boom, while neighboring Wisconsin is already there
  • Popular Illinois state park at center of struggle over sand used in fracking
  • House of Representatives passes bill approving Keystone XL oil pipeline
  • Senate, by a single vote, defeats legislation that would have approved construction of the Keystone XL pipeline
Federal Budget -
  • Behind the scene Congressional negotiations continue over legislation to keep the government running, as omnibus bill discussions face problematic conservatives' policy rider demands
  • Expectations for a long-term omnibus Federal spending package are dampened, as Republican leaders weigh their options
  • House Republicans search for spending compromise to avoid a government shutdown but restrict immigration changes
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) 
  • St. Croix National Scenic River Association's Aquatic Invasive Species Workshop, Grantsburg, WI, December 5, 9 AM - 3:30 PM CST
  • Updated webinar link information now available for December 9 Great Waters Webinar: "Time to End the Slime – Addressing Nutrient Pollution" 3 PM EST
  • Newly formed North Dakota Missouri River Stakeholders group holds its first meeting this week; story:; home page:
  • "Future of Farmland and Food?" Highlights of American Farmland Trust's recent National Conference in Lexington, Kentucky
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • Senate Judiciary Committee approves new legislation that would strengthen the Freedom of Information Act; news article:; Committee meeting summary: (bill:
  • White House issues veto threats against House Republican bills that place restrictions on Environmental Protection Agency (see related stories below)
  • Over White House veto threat, House passes bill to overhaul Environmental Protection Agency Scientific Advisory Board (bill link here:
  • House passes H.R. 4012, to restrict EPA regulations not based upon "transparent or reproducible" science (bill link here:
  • Upper Arkansas River Stage and Rail Trail plan nearing completion, will be put before public
  • $6 million overhaul starting soon of southern Indiana state park's museum exhibits on Ohio River geography, culture
Politics and People-
  • Democratic leaders announce Democratic Caucus approval of 19 Ranking Members for 114th Congress House Committees
  • House Majority Leader McCarthy releases 2015 House calendar
  • Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has no plans to retire . . . "no frickin' way"
  • House GOP picks all-male slate of new committee chairs, including Agriculture: Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Natural Resources: Rob Bishop (R-Utah)
  • Rep. Mike Conaway (R., Tex.) selected as the 50th chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture (Kansas Republican Pat Roberts widely expected to be new chairman of Senate's Agriculture Committee in January
  • Broadly speaking, President Obama has a political advantage over congressional Republicans when it comes to environmental matters
  • Bill Frenzel, a 20-year U.S. House member from Minnesota, died on Monday at 86
  • Washington Post: "Landrieu's final indignity: One vote short on Keystone"
  • USDA Secretary Appoints New Members to National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board
Your Moment of Zen -
Biggest brown coal power plant of Europe at Belchatow coal power station, Poland. Poland and other eastern Europe countries have categorically rejected a target put forward by the world’s top climate scientists to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2100 to avoid dangerous global warming, leaked documents show.  Photograph: Artur Marciniec/Alamy. 

No comments:

Post a Comment