Friday, February 20, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~
This Week and Next
This rapidly-ending wintry week saw an oil tanker train derailment and spill in West Virginia, a reversal in the legal fortunes for a Louisiana levee authority, a shift in farmers' planting plans from corn to soybeans, signs of Asian carp in the upper Ohio River, and Mississippi River Basin states planning deep budget cuts.  Links to these stories and more can be found in the lengthy list, below (and summarized more pithily in "What We Learned This Week - Sheep or Goats?").

Congress returns from a week-long break next Tuesday, and resumes committee activities - many focused on the development of a Budget Resolution, which would set the fiscal boundaries of any subsequent spending bills drafted by the House and Senate.  Many environmental and water-focused subcommittees next week will host budget hearings for the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Agriculture and Interior Department.  There will also be a hearing exploring 2014 Farm Bill implementation over year on.  Here is a link  to the U.S. House and Senate activities currently scheduled for next week that relate to Mississippi River Basin water resources.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week
Water Quality -
  • Train carrying over 100 tank cars of crude oil derails in West Virginia sending at least one into
    Photo Credit: Iowa Geological Survey
    the Kanawha River
  • Oilfield wastewater pipelines often leak in North Dakota, with devastating consequences
  • National Law Review: Iowa Utility To Pursue Novel Lawsuit Over Agricultural Nitrate Pollution
  • Star Tribune: A closely watched fight brewing over nitrates in Iowa water
  • After 16 years with lapsed power plant wastewater permit, Ameren’s new Missouri River proposal gets public hearing
  • Senate bill aims to reduce polluted stormwater that washes off highways into streams and rivers
  • Farmers can better prevent nutrient runoff based on land characteristics
  • EPA proposes several changes in required/recommended wastewater analysis testing methods; Federal Register:
  • Center for Biological Diversity: oil trains threaten 3,600 miles of streams as well as 73,000 square miles of lakes, wetlands and reservoirs
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran questions lack for funding for Mississippi Delta flood control projects
  • Corps of Engineers moves ahead with study of at-risk Arkansas River levee system (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
  • Midwest Environmental Advocates opposes DNR's approval of crude oil rail line through La Crosse, Wisconsin wetlands
  • Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District completes last round of buyouts  of flood-prone property along Missouri River (Nebraska)
  • Large number of environmental organizations urge lawmakers “to protect mandatory funding for farm bill conservation"
  • Complexity of Farm Bill becomes "this mess" in farm country
  • As crop prices fall, farmers grow subsidies instead
  • Des Moines Register: Water, air quality concerns heighten conflict between pig farms and environmental advocates
  • Biofuels scientists critique World Resources Institute study linking bioenergy, food scarcity
  • The "aging farmer problem" may be overstated
  • The Future Of Agriculture? Precision Farming
  • U.S. farmers from Louisiana to North Dakota switch more land to soybeans, seeking to limit slumping corn market losses
  • For the first time since the 1970s, corn planting will decline for three straight seasons; soybeans expand to record acreage
  • USDA scientists model nutrient loss from Midwestern crop fields
  • USDA solicits applications for $9 million in funding to help communities develop local, independent food systems
  • Survey shows Iowans support targeted approaches for multiple-benefit agriculture
Click to enlarge
Climate and Weather -
  • National Weather Service: Drought likely to develop in Upper Midwest by spring
  • US weekly drought update: abnormally dry soils in Lower Mississippi Valley Precipitation below average across most of Great Plains, Central Plains, Midwest
  • EPA Releases Stormwater Climate Change Tool to help communities prepare for climate change impacts
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission: Asian carp eDNA found in Ohio River for the second year running in Pennsylvania
  • Arrival of small flock along Platte River signals start of sandhill crane migration
  • Administration commitment to Asian carp alternatives outlined in 2014's Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study questioned
  • Invasive emerald ash borer, known pest in ash trees, found in Louisiana (Webster Parish)
In the Cities -
Photo Courtesy Philips Lighting
  • Big Four Bridge across the Ohio River in Louisville, Kentucky is ablaze with 1,500 blinking colored LED lights
  • St. Bernard Parish to get six-mile bike trail along Mississippi River (New Orleans metropolitan area)
  • Prairie du Chien (Wisconsin) council approves preliminary flood mitigation project
In the States -
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants to remove tax money from state park system and make parks self-sustaining
  • West Virginia Coal Association pushes state bills that would weaken environmental and mining safety rules (link to bills: House - Senate -
  • Expecting significant budget shortfalls, Illinois’s governor proposes over $6 billion in state spending cuts
  • Oklahoma budget deficit, prompted by oil industry decline, doubles to over $600 million, deeper cuts coming
Click to enlarge
Gulf Coastal Region -
  • Times-Picayune editorial: Gulf dead zone must be reduced
  • 15 Louisiana coastal restoration projects authorized in 2007 by Congress have met various fates
  • Federal judge has dismisses southeast Louisiana flood protection board wetland-loss lawsuit against oil and gas companies
  • Satellite images show new deltas forming off Louisiana coast
  • RESTORE Advisory Committee sets criteria for coastal restoration projects in Escambia County, Louisiana
Forestry -
  • Newly-announced joint USFS-NRCS projects include Mississippi River Basin forest restoration projects in Missouri, Illinois, Ohio and South Dakota (announcement:
Natural Resources Development -
  • Proposed southeastern Minnesota frac sand mining operation could be biggest in state
  • EPA plans to offer a proposal for Renewable Fuels Standards for 2014, 2015, and 2016 this spring
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)
  • National Invasive Species Awareness Week, February 22-28
  • Aquatic Invasive Species Strategic Plan meeting (St. Croix River); March 4, 9:30 am Central; St. Croix Falls, WI
  • Symposium "The Once and Future River: Imagining the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change;" Northrop, Minnesota, April 8, 7:00 PM, April 9 (all day), April 10 (morning)
  • Registration open for USEPA Water Quality Standards Academy; April 27 - May 1; Washington, DC
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia -
Other News -
  • NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite to measure soil moisture worldwide every 2–3 days for next three years
  • ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science: Conservatives discount scientific theories that run counter to their worldview; liberals do the same
  • Student summer trainee internship positions at the Rock Island, Department of the Interior Field Office, Illinois
  • Obama to make Colorado's Browns Canyon a national monument (Arkansas River)
  • Job: Southwest Badger Resource Conservation and Development Council full time, limited term Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator
  • Groups slam government advisory group suggestion to reduce red meat intake for environmental reasons
People and Politics -
  • Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) considers a primary election Tea Party challenge against Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)
  • Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) will challenge Sen. Roy Blunt (R) for Missouri U.S. Senate seat
  • New Congress has slightly higher approval ratings: 20% say they approve of the way it's handling job
  • Newest member of Iowa House of Representatives, David Sieck (R), has extensive river issue experience (won seat in February 10 special election)
Your Moment of Zen
Flamingos at the Memphis Zoo huddling together for warmth on Tuesday.
(AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Jim Weber)

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