Friday, January 2, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~

2014 is dead.  Long live 2015!
Welcome to 2015 and the first Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News edition of the year.  This issue is a two-week compendium of the best water news bits that trickled across our virtual desk since just before Christmas.

The 114th Congress is set to convene at noon on January 6, when the presentation of certificates of election and the swearing-in of elected Members will occur.   Here are the links to the 2014 U.S. House and Senate schedules.  Here is our latest listing River Basin-related Congressional activity for the week ahead (currently consisting of just one scheduled meeting).

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • Sen. John Hoeven (R., N.D.) "working on a two-step process to eliminate" US EPA's proposed Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule
  • NPR: Aftereffects of W.V. chemical spill into Elk River still felt months later
  • Federal authorities are continuing criminal investigation into falsified water results at West Virginia coal industry laboratory
  • Looking back: Tennessee coal ash disaster; 5 years, $1 billion later
  • XTO Energy agrees to restore 8 sites damaged by unauthorized discharges of fill material into streams and wetlands in Pennsylvania and West Virginia (Consent Decree here:
  • Coal mining companies agreed to use selenium water pollution control technologies at nine West Virginia operations
  • Scientists are working on novel ways to curb the nutrient runoff problem
  • North Dakota sides with three oil companies in landowner lawsuit over saltwater spills at disposal well
  • St. Louis region in Missouri and Illinois makes sustainable strides with dozens of permeable paver projects
  • Monongahela River has been taken off a list of Pennsylvania rivers impaired by pollution (also see:
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial: Clean water woes: Congress should stop blocking a sensible EPA rule
  • Hundreds of southeastern Wisconsin residential wells could be contaminated by pollutants related to buried coal ash
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • National Grain and Feed Association commends higher user fee on barge diesel fuel to fund improvements to river locks
  • Study: U.S. soybean exports at risk without major investments in Mississippi River inland waterway
  • FEMA Announces Launch of the Interim Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate
Agriculture -
  • Livestock farmers to EPA: Don't tell activists where we are 
  • USDA NRCS extends the public comment period on the Conservation Stewardship Program interim rule through January 20 (for background, see this Conservation Stewardship Program web page:
  • USDA Farm Service Agency releases final Conservation Reserve Program supplemental programmatic environmental impact statement (see related article here:
  • Farmers on upward part of learning curve for new Illinois EPA CAFO, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations rules
  • Iowa farmers and companies are suing Syngenta AG over GMO seeds
  • Pesticides commonly used on Midwest farm fields linked to bee colony decline may not be as effective as once thought against corn, soybean pests
  • Over the last decade, Midwestern farmland has been appreciating at an average rate of more than 10 percent per year
  • A record 3.9 billion gallons of ethanol produced in Iowa in 2014; 2015 output uncertain
  • More than 300 food hubs around the U.S. provide small farms an outlet to sell locally raised food
Climate and Weather -
Drought update map: Click to enlarge
  • EPA draft report out for comment: "Regional Monitoring Networks to Detect Climate Change Effects in Stream Ecosystems"
  • US drought update for December 30: No changes across northern Plains and upper Midwest; some small-scale changes for the worse across  southern Plains
  • NOAA Climate Prediction Center monthly drought outlook for January; look for additional improvement or removal of drought in the extreme southern Great Plains, the lower Mississippi Valley, and central Gulf Coast
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Illinois is considering lifting its more-than-40-year-old ban on hunting bobcats
  • Monarch butterflies may warrant U.S. Endangered Species Act protection because of farm-related habitat loss (also see this FWS announcement:
  • Devastating Asian longhorn beetle knocks on Kentucky's door, threatening 100 species of hardwood trees
  • Federal judge reverses Obama administration decision to remove Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin gray wolves from endangered species list (see related story, below)
  • Wolf experts dispute belief that gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are endangered
  • Minnesota DNR uses potash to solve zebra mussel infestation in Christmas Lake in Shorewood
Pittsburgh's " spinal cord of a new on-street
biking network"
In the Cities -
  • Multimodal Uptown Station in Normal, Illinois is centerpiece of LEED-ND certified downtown revitalization plan
  • Memphis, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania make PeopleForBikes list of top 10 best new bike lanes in the country for 2014
  • Waverly, Iowa foregoes levees; installs innovative inflatable dam to address flooding concerns
  • Kokomo, Indiana stadium project construction in Wildcat River flood prone area in violation of FEMA grant terms
In the States-
  • Illinois seeks comments on proposal to reduce amount of nutrients reaching state waters by 45 percent
  • States dependent on oil and gas revenue are bracing for layoffs resulting from falling oil prices, including Oklahoma, Louisiana and North Dakota
  • Policies of Midwestern Republican governors could wind up in the national 2016 campaign picture
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Trial starting January 20, will determine how much in fines BP and its partners will pay for 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster
Resource Development -
  • Nebraska Supreme Court will not rule until 2015 on constitutionality of 2012 state law to fast-track new Keystone XL pipeline route
  • President Obama: building the Keystone XL oil pipeline would "not even have a nominal benefit" to consumers
  • State study: Alternatives to northern Minnesota crude oil pipeline also carry risks
Federal Budget -
  • Federal budget almost certain to be central battleground between President Obama and new Republican Congress in 2015
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)
  • Natural Floodplain Functions Alliance Webinar-Lessons Learned from Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Successful Floodplain Management Program; January 6; 3-5 PM EST
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council "Watershed Wednesday" Capitol Rotunda, Helena, January 28
  • 21st International Symposium on Society and Resource Management; June 13-18, 2015; Charleston, South Carolina
  • Full recording of December 9 Great Waters Webinar: "Time to End the Slime – Addressing Nutrient Pollution"
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • EPA announces final rule governing disposal of coal combustion residuals (coal ash) from
    coal-fired power plants; EPA press release: (related stories below)
  • EPA announces federal guidelines for coal ash disposal, to safeguard against contaminating nearby waters (see above)
  • U.S. EPA's new coal combustion waste disposal rule will not force all wet coal ash impoundments to close
  • Eight Missouri and Madison river public recreation improvement projects proposed by NorthWestern Energy, Missouri-Madison River Fund
  • EPA announces availability of $2,730,000 of funding for Environmental Education Local Grants ($91,000 maximum)
  • Job: Floodplain Restoration GLOBE summer intern for The Nature Conservancy, Lewistown, Illinois (January 23 deadline)
  • The Atlantic: The Politics of Drinking Water: Vital, renewable, and tied to civilization since the beginning of time, water
  • Rasmussen Reports poll: Voters' view of USEPA hits historical low point
Politics and People-
  • House Speaker Boehner formally invites President Obama to deliver the State of the Union address on January 20
  • Rumors swirl that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) might run for North Dakota governor in 2016
Your Moment of Zen -
Photograph: iVistaphotography / Barcroft

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