Friday, February 13, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~
This Week and Next
Cyanobacteria. Binder Lake, Iowa.
August 2006.
The week now ending saw Congress pass a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, through the Plains states to the Gulf of Mexico.  That bill will almost certainly be vetoed by President Obama, marking the first of what could be many vetoes through the remainder of his presidency. On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee debated and passed the Drinking Water Protection Act, sending the bill on to the full House. That bipartisan bill, introduced largely in response to last summer's Toledo, Ohio drinking water contamination incident, would require the U.S. EPA to develop a strategic plan to manage the risks associated with cyanotoxins in drinking water. Thus far, no companion bill has been introduced in the Senate, so the measure's overall fate remains uncertain. Also this week: the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient (Hypoxia) Task Force has given the nation 20 more years to meet the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia reduction target; the Army Corps of Engineers said that civil works projects mean jobs; the Obama Administration said it would finalize its proposed clean water rule by the summer; and proposed state bills in West Virginia and Minnesota would impact water protections.  Details on all of this and much more can be found below (or in this readily-edible, one paragraph version: "What We Learned This Week - 'Slip slidin' away'").

Congressional lawmakers have next week off for the President's Day holiday (many will be out of town during a scheduled state or district work period).  So, no floor or committee activity is scheduled until Tuesday, February 24.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
  • EPA release: States "develop new strategies to reduce nutrient levels in Mississippi River, Gulf of Mexico;" they need 20 more years to complete that work (news article:
  • Des Moines Register: States want 20 more years to meet Gulf dead-zone goals
  • Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy: Administration looking to finalize clean water rule "by the summer"
  • Agriculture Secretary Vilsack will not ask U.S. EPA, Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw proposed Waters of the United States rule (link to hearing page here:
  • USDA NRCS announces "the new MRBI" - a second phase of its Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative
  • Tennessee Clean Water Network and Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association join lawsuit to
    Photo: CSA News Magazine
    protect Nashville drinking water source
  • At Congressional hearing, Oklahoma attorney general vows to sue Obama administration over Clean Water Act rule
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources continues to monitor Mississippi River after derailed train spills ethanol
  • Lawmakers clash over ‘mythical’ EPA water rule
  • Effects on Indiana's Winona Lake uncertain following explosion, spill
  • EPA proposes changes to National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan requirements; comments due by April 22 (Federal Register notice:
  • Energy and Commerce Committee sends bill dealing with algal toxin management on to full House (link to bill: H.R. 212, Drinking Water Protection Act)
  • Contamination levels persist but are dropping in larger downstream rivers following North Dakota saltwater spill
  • Subsoil phosphorus loss: A complex problem with no easy solutions
  • University of Arkansas scientists addressing Gulf of Mexico hypoxia
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
Photo: David Grunfeld, The Times-Picayune
  • University of Iowa study of over 50 years of data in 14 states finds Midwest is flooding more frequently
  • Horinko Group white paper: Role of Public-Private Partnerships in Meeting a Community’s Water and Wastewater Needs-A Primer for Public Officials
  • Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with Mississippi River navigation lock expansion without Port of New Orleans help
  • With no money in budget for Chattanooga's Chickamauga Lock, Army Corps of Engineers reconsiders lock priorities
  • House Democrats push bill to incorporate modern forecasting into Army Corps' dam operations (bill:
  • An estimated $1.2 billion in corn, soy and wheat crops at risk in US states where competition with industrial water users is acute
  • Settlement calls for northeast Twin Cities metro communities to use Mississippi River water instead of groundwater
  • USDA survey: Corn used 14 percent more water from irrigation in 2013 than in 2008; Water use for all crops combined declined 3.7 percent
  • Des Moines Register explores current issues associated with swine animal feeding operations in Iowa "Iowa Great Lakes may be next hog-confinement battleground"
  • U.S. cattle backgrounding and feeding capacity is moving to the Plains and Midwest
    Click to enlarge
  • What nobody told me about small farming: the ugly fact that most farms are unsustainable
  • USDA: rate of growth in number of farmers markets nationally has slowed dramatically in the last five years; have farmers markets peaked? (USDA report: "Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems"
  • Federal district court in Minnesota approves EPA proposal not to release farmers, ranchers personal information while appeal is pending
  • USDA: Farm income in the U.S. is poised to drop for a third straight year in 2015; a 15-percent increase in government payments in 2015 is expected (see graph, above)
  • USDA releases new report entitled, “USDA Long-Term Agricultural Projections,” providing projections for the agricultural sector to 2024 (highlights here:
  • Farm payment projections growing past the amounts originally budgeted just a year ago in Farm Bill
  • DTN: Defense of Crop Insurance: House Ag Committee Leaders Argue Cuts Not Needed, But Efforts Continue
  • New initiative allows farmers to test and compare soil-health improvements
  • House Agriculture Committee reviews the state of the rural economy during Wednesday hearing
  • "Nature, agriculture coexist in Mason County" (Illinois)
  • Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) reintroduces bill to stimulate new agricultural research through new type of philanthropy combining private sector entrepreneurship with charitable giving
  • National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition releases new guide to how the USDA Conservation Stewardship Program works
Click to enlarge
Climate and Weather -
  • Unprecedented 21st century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains; research paper: (story:
  • US weekly drought update: abnormally dry, moderate drought area expands across central and eastern Kentucky; abnormally dry areas expand in southwestern Missouri, and into western South Dakota (map to the right)
  • As efforts to restrain deforestation begin to work, farming now worse for climate change than clearing forests
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Asian carp advance up Mississippi River Basin to the Great Lakes has stalled, Army Corps of Engineers tells Congress
  • Obama administration and conservation groups launch plan to halt the death spiral of the monarch butterfly
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: scientists find new clue in bee colony collapse disorder
  • Biologists study shovelnose sturgeon in Arkansas River ahead of planned development
  • Federal agencies using unconventional model to help endangered pallid sturgeon from running into Yellowstone River's Intake Dam
Photo credit: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune
Forestry -
  • Alarmed by rapid deforestation, Minnesota DNR orders environmental review that will temporarily halt central-state jackpine conversion to potato fields  (also see:
  • A Biofuel Debate: Will Cutting Trees Cut Carbon?
In the Cities -
  • Ground broken along Baton Rouge's Mississippi riverfront for new $45 million, 33-acre Center for River Studies
  • Memphis, Tennessee city leaders forming 45-member task force to focus on water resources
  • Post-flood rebuilding gave Nashville, Tennessee an opportunity to craft a vibrant, connected, green, dense downtown plan
  • Virtual Map tour of Nashville water resource's bioretention, pervious pavement, green roofs and infiltration projects
In the States -
  • Links to 46 state budget summaries for Fiscal Year 2014 (for states' enacted final budgets in fiscal years ending in mid-2014)
  • Wisconsin manure spills putting drinking water supplies at risk; precipitating fish kills
    Photo: Picasa
  • West Virginia lawmakers consider series of proposals that would weaken new chemical tank safety, water protection law (link to Senate version of bill:
  • West Virginia lawmakers back legislation to shield coal mining companies from environmental group lawsuits (Senate version of bill:; bill includes provisions to review water quality standards for selenium and aluminum
  • Proposed West Virginia bills would weaken water protections
  • Ohio Senate bill outlines new effort to fight toxic algae, support clean drinking water (link to bill:
  • Minnesota state lawmakers seek to pass package of bills to limit hunting, ban snaring, increase livestock fund
  • Minnesota state bills would require legislative approval, economic impact study of any new water quality regulations  (link to bills:
  • Minnesota draft general permit for operating livestock feedlots with 1,000 or more animal units open for public comment through March 11
  • Iowa state revenue between July and January totaled $100 million below estimates
  • North Dakota state Democrats say agency's promotion, regulation of oil and gas development is a conflict of interest
  • Montana state senator introduces bill prohibiting state from selling land obtained from federal government to private owners
Gulf Coastal Region -
  • Louisiana's threatened coast is seeing new patches of high ground and exposed land through restoration efforts
Natural Resources Development -
  • House passes bill authorizing Keystone XL oil sands pipeline construction, setting up first major Obama presidency veto (link to bill:
  • TransCanada Corp. will halt Keystone XL oil pipeline eminent domain proceedings in attempt to resolve litigation vs. Nebraska landowners
Federal Budget -
  • Army Corps at House Appropriations subcommittee's budget hearing: money spent on civil works projects means jobs
  • Committee hearing reaction implies that President's Army Corps of Engineers budget request is all but dead on arrival
  • If Department of Homeland Security funding lapses, most Federal Emergency Management Agency staff would continue to work
  • House Agriculture Committee sends its Budgets Views and Estimates Letter for Fiscal Year 2016 on to House Budget Committee
  • Groups urge congress to implement a 2% funding increase for key conservation, outdoors, historic preservation programs
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)
  • Association of State Wetland Managers webinar: Playa and Rainwater Basin Wetland
    Click to enlarge
    Restoration; February 17, 3 PM ET
  • CQ Roll Call forum: Future of Advanced Biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard; Washington, DC, February 24, 9 AM
  • Briefing on USGS Report on Nationwide Groundwater Quality; March 6, 9:00 AM, Washington, DC
  • National Groundwater Awareness Week; March 8-14
  • National Ag Day; March 18, 2015 (Washington, DC events:
  • Water is topic of University of Nebraska symposium and water law conference, Lincoln’s NU College of Law, March 19-20
  • Water Week 2015: National Water Policy Forum, Fly-In and Expo; Washington, DC, April 13-15
Photograph: U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers/St. Louis District
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia -
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's February "BALMM Currents" - Basin Alliance for the Lower Mississippi in Minnesota
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 277, February 11
  • Corps of Engineers shares historic Mississippi River flood of 1927 photos online
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for February 2015
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy's TUWaterWays, February 11 e-newsletter
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council February 12 Watershed News
  • Gulf Restoration Network's Gulf Waves e-newsletter for February 13
Other News -
  • Bill reintroduced to permanently stop EPA from regulating lead shot, sinkers, other ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act
  • UN Water releases analytical brief on wastewater management, stressing the drinking water and wastewater nexus
  • Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District is seeking more volunteers to operate the Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Site
  • Alliance for Water Efficiency, Environmental Law Institute, River Network partner on initiative to promote water neutral community growth
  • National Association of Clean Water Agencies, AGree, and U.S. Water Alliance white paper: Collaborating for Healthy Watersheds
  • Job opening: Director of the University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program (Lake Superior and Minnesota's inland waters)
People and Politics -
  • Federal Employed Women Association biennial interactive map of the federal workforce presence nationwide by agency grouping, county and congressional district
  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announces the full lineup for its four subcommittees
  • Analysis: Louisiana environmental lobby gains prominent ally in retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore
  • Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.-1) dies after a battle with brain cancer
Your Moment of Zen
 Photograph: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

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