Friday, January 9, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • Iowa's largest water provider - Des Moines Water Works votes to sue three northwestern Iowa counties over high nitrate levels in the Raccoon River
  • Environmental groups seek to force federal regulation of clean water in Ky., W.Va. (also see article, below)
  • Environmental groups file three lawsuits seeking greater USEPA regulation of West Virginia and Kentucky coal mining
  • New multi-institution study shows blue-green algae can drive lake nitrogen, phosphorus cycling  (full research paper here:
  • New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promises to go after proposed Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule this year
  • Following a 2014 brain-eating amoeba scare, pure chlorine treatment approach to end next week in St. John Parish, Louisiana
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial: EPA should kill New Madrid Floodway project once and for all
  • Proposed coal ash landfill in Missouri River floodplain moves closer to construction despite environmentalists' objections (eastern Missouri)
  • First phase of a three-year, $15 million Arkansas River 2.8-mile levee reconstruction begins
  • Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) looks to restart debate over U.S. EPA's authority to veto Army Corps of Engineers dredge-and-fill permits
Agriculture -
  • USDA’s Economic Research Service paper: “Options for Improving Conservation Programs: Insights from Auction Theory and Economic Experiments”
  • South Dakota farm tops 300 bushels per irrigated acre in statewide corn contest
  • Nebraska and Arkansas both are in the top five states in acres of irrigated farmland (2013 survey); Nebraska is #1
  • Many U.S. farmers will tighten their belts further in 2015 as they contend with continued low grain and soybean prices
  • Magnitude of the projected 2015 farm economy downslide is the largest in the last quarter century
  • USDA begins its celebration of the International Year of Soils to highlight the importance of healthy soils
  • EPA: insecticide used on corn, other U.S. crops poses worker health risks, also can contaminate drinking water
  • Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., plans to travel to Cuba to assess the markets for Missouri agriculture
  • Growing number of small businesses provide local farmers and their customers with marketing, transportation, logistics services
Climate and Weather -
  • US drought update: long-term precipitation deficits persist across many areas of southern Plains; upper Midwest, central, northern Plains: status quo
  • Japanese data release makes it official: 2014 takes the title of hottest year on record
  • Op-ed: Scientists are "playing dumb on climate change" by setting rigorous statistical bars
  • NOAA National Climate Summary Information data sets for December and for all of 2014
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/MN DNR e-DNA study indicates that Asian carp presence may still be minimal in Upper Mississippi River
  • Wild buffalo playing a crucial role in restoring Illinois grasslands 
  • Sighting of extremely rare ivory gull along Mississippi River draws flocks of bird watchers to Quincy, Illinois
In the Cities -
  • Fort Smith, Arkansas agrees to upgrade sewer system to reduce discharges of raw sewage
    into local waterways
  • Future Iowa City Riverfront Crossings district park to take shape this year, with new wetland, recreational opportunities
  • How Harbor Town in Memphis changed from what might have been a Mississippi River highway to a green, mixed-use Riverside community of over 3,000 people
In the States-
  • Ohio Farmers Union president op-ed: "Yes: Ohio farmers’ harvests depend on healthy waters"
  • Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Tom Wolf faces daunting challenges, including a $2 Billion budget hole
  • West Virginians discuss establishing agriculture in the state's coalfields as a way of diversifying the economy
  • Rural Minnesota state lawmakers intend to press housing, jobs, water issues as state legislative session begins
  • Minnesota DNR aquatic education program wins nationwide award
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Louisiana's United Houma Nation lands are disappearing beneath the Gulf of Mexico as the tribe struggles for federal recognition
  • NOAA scientists' article: From the extreme to the mean: Acceleration and tipping points of coastal inundation from sea level rise
Resource Development -
  • Tumbling oil prices are bringing unwelcome tidings to bio-ethanol: one of the U.S. Farm Belt’s hottest industries
  • Keystone XL Pipeline is not the only major oil pipeline being planned that would cut through the Midwest
  • White House press secretary: President will not sign a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline if it passes
  • Obama administration issues formal veto threats for bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee clears Keystone XL pipeline project approval legislation on a 13-9 vote
  • Keystone XL pipeline future is tenuous, as Senators scramble to keep the project alive
Federal Budget -
  • President Obama plans to release the Administration's fiscal year 2016 budget plan on February 2
  • The next Federal debt ceiling fight; Senate Majority Leader McConnell vows end to brinksmanship, but troubles loom
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)
  • Save the Date: How Will Climate Change Affect Our Global Food Supply?, January 28, 12:45 - 2 PM, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC
  • 16th annual Protecting the St. Croix Summit: "Changing Climate, Changing Times," April 29, Water Street Inn, Stillwater, MN
  • 2015 National Mitigation and Ecosystem Banking Conference, Orlando, Florida, May 4-8
  • Water Environment Federation, the Water Environment Research Foundation, and the California Water Environment Association hosting Nutrient Symposium 2015, July 26–28, San Jose, CA
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • Lake Fork Watershed Working Group elects to expand focus to entire Arkansas River headwaters upstream of Granite, Colorado
  • Nominations sought for Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards
  • U.S. transportation and shipping network faces big test as harsh, cold wind chills buffet the Plains to East Coast
Politics and People-
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appoints 35-year career employee Jim Kurth as new deputy director for operations
  • EPA selects Ron Carleton, former Colorado state agriculture official, as agricultural counselor to the Administrator
  • Tennessee Valley Authority names Washington, D.C., attorney Sherry Quirk as executive vice president, general counsel
  • Senate Republicans plan a full-on assault against a wide range of Obama administration environmental rules
  • A few within the GOP House majority accept the science of climate change, including Louisiana's Rep.-elect Garret Graves
  • Incoming Senate Majority Leader McConnell (KY): Jobs, Keystone pipeline and rolling back "strict" environmental and healthcare regulations top GOP agenda
  • New Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on the need to compromise: it's not me it's you
  • Analysis: new Congress may be the most boldly anti-science body since the time of the Scopes Monkey trial
  • The 114th Congress, despite being the most diverse to date, is still overwhelmingly white, male and Christian
  • Nipping rumors in the bud, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., says he does not plan to run for Senate in 2016
  • PBS: In U.S. history, president’s party has been in minority in both houses during only 24 of the 114 sessions of Congress, but it's the "new normal"
Your Moment of Zen - 
Bald Eagle feeding along the Mississippi River                                                                         Photo credit: William Joers/The Guardian

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