Friday, June 26, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

~Most of the Water News - None of the Spin~
This Week and Next
In the River region, the wet week just ending included Red River, Illinois River, Mississippi River and Des Moines River flooding; the lifting of a two-week nitrate drinking water advisory in Columbus, Ohio; the banning of synthetic microbeads in Indiana; and a serious proposal to pipe quite a bit of Mississippi River water from Arkansas to Texas each year for “up to 75+ years.”

Meanwhile, in the nation's capital, the White House threatened to veto two spending bills - one being a House measure funding the U.S. EPA and Interior Department, and the second, a Senate Commerce, Justice and Science, spending bill that in part funds NOAA and the National Science Foundation.  The House started to debate the former piece of legislation on Thursday: considering 32 amendments before adjourning until July 7.  One approved change would reduce funding for the EPA Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement by $2 million.  And money for several approved funding increases for Department of Interior programs will come from EPA administrative funds.  An amendment offered by  Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and approved by a voice vote would shift money from EPA's Science and Technology program to its National Estuary Program, funding coastal and estuary restoration.  Final consideration of the spending bill - including debate on most of the contentious issues - was put off until the House returns from its July 4 recess.  Thus far Democrats have not offered any amendments to strip the more controversial policy riders from the bill (such as the language blocking implementation of the Obama administration's new Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule).

You can find the links to these and many other River-related news pieces, below. And for those with limited time or attention spans we do provide the one-paragraph summary of the week's news in "What We Learned This Week - 'Billions and Billions'."

This week we forego the usual look-ahead to next week in Congress, as there will be no next week in Congress.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week  

Water Quality -
  • National Network on Water Quality Trading releases "Building a Water Quality Trading
    (click here to view report)
    Program: Options and Considerations"
  • Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) backs WOTUS rule reform in speech to National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
  • Columbus, Ohio lifts two-week nitrate advisory, saying tap water is safe, but water problems aren't over
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection drafts Nonpoint Source Management Plan-2014 Update for public comment designed to meet pollution reduction milestones
  • Indiana banning synthetic plastic microbeads in order to protect water resources
  • National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (Alton, IL) launches Great Rivers Ecological Observation Network
  • EPA urged to seize opportunity to update wastewater pollution guidelines for power plants (Effluent Limitations Guidelines for the Steam Electric industry)
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Moderate to major flooding predicted in Illinois, Upper Mississippi River valleys
  • High Mississippi River has Army Corps of Engineers watching sand boils, seepage on levees 
    Photo: Laura Simon
  • Rains continue to keep water levels high across Wisconsin
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial: A waterlogged nation fails to learn from its repeated floods 
  • Record rainfall swells parts of Mississippi River to flood stage; closes Red River locks
  • USDA announces new web based tool to proactively monitor dams in real time
  • Amid drought and flooding, states and cities look to harvest the rain, reuse stormwater
  • National Flood Insurance Program probed at Senate hearing; Sen. Schumer: program a "circus"  Sen. Shelby: "something's wrong"
  • Company proposes to pipe 840 thousand acre feet of Mississippi River water to Texas each year for “up to 75+ years”
Agriculture -
  • Earnings in the U.S. farm sector plunged 22.4% in the first quarter of 2015, with all but nine
    states posting declines
  • U.S. Plains flooding since May refills soil moisture, farmers' wallets
  • NPR: Local Food Is Still A Niche. Can It Grow Beyond That?
  • USDA announces $17.5 million to help partners protect, restore, enhance critical wetlands on private and tribal agricultural lands
  • North Dakota Natural Resources Conservation Service seeks bids for conservation work amid conflict allegations
  • National Working Group on Cover Crops and Soil Health releases recommendations for USDA agencies and programs
  • Insurance Journal: Floods tend to grab more headlines, but drought is actually much more costly in terms of its impact on agriculture
  • Louisiana farmers brace for worst year since 2008
Climate and Weather -
  • US drought update: No tangible dryness severity change in Wisconsin and Minnesota; reductions in southeastern South Dakota and adjacent Nebraska dryness
  • Missouri farming at a standstill as storms flood local fields
  • Pennsylvania expands drought watch to 37 counties, six in Ohio River Basin
  • EPA report:  U.S. may face up to $180 billion in economic losses because of drought and water shortages by end of century
  • USDA releases departmental regulation to strengthen action on climate change adaptation
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Lead fishing tackle ingested by fish is killing Minnesota loons and other birds
In the Cities -
  • LaCrosse Tribune editorial: Forget municipal boundaries; Think of 7 Rivers Region as a single,
    Photo: Southeast Missourian archive
    dynamic area without borders
  • FEMA seeks public comment on new preliminary flood maps for Orleans Parish (New Orleans, Louisiana)
  • Minneapolis says goodbye to river shipping
  • Dutchtown, Missouri in final stages of federal flood buyout project (Mississippi River)
In the States-
  • The Citizens' Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency met for the last time Tuesday
    States' News This Week
    following Legislature's elimination of the board
  • Wisconsin Republicans, who control the Legislature, are balking at Governor's demands for the state’s budget
  • With the clock ticking down to a new fiscal year, Pennsylvania still doesn't have a budget
  • Term limits helping reshape next Louisiana Legislature
  • With fiscal year 2015 coming to a close, more than a dozen states have yet to strike a budget deal, including Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin
Source: NASA
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • $225,000 grant awarded to University of New Orleans will be used to continue studying Louisiana’s coastline changes
Forestry -
  • U.S Forest Service deploys army of silver flies to help save the Eastern hemlock forests
Resource Development -
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources plans to allow mining companies to look for metals in seven northeastern counties (some in Mississippi River
    Photo: ryangop (Instagram)
  • Over 100 biofuel industry representatives are in Washington this week, pushing for a strong Renewable Fuel Standard
  • Federal judge blocks implementation of Bureau of Land Management regulations for fracking on federal land, hours before they were set to take effect
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health kept a log of health complaints related to natural gas development that reveals agency’s limited follow-up
  • There were 35 earthquakes in Oklahoma between June 17 and 24, prompting regulators to consider new oil and gas drilling restrictions
Federal Budget (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this web page) -
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
  • “Missouri River Invasives” with fisheries biologist Sam Stukel, Sioux City Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, June 28, 2 PM
  • "Integrating Natural Capital into Decisions" June 30, 9 to 11 AM, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC (and the Internet)
  • Iowa State Fair (August 13-23) announces 15 new foods for this year's fair, its most ever, including golden fried peanut butter and jelly on a stick
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • 1 Mississippi campaign June newsletter: "Ashes to Ashes – Floods to Floods"
  • Montana Watershed Coordination Council's June 19 Watershed News
  • American Farmland Trust's June edition of "The Dirt"
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 294, June 23, "Care For Our Common Home"
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for June 2015
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy June 24 TUWaterWays e-newsletter (will be posted here eventually:
  • The Great Rivers Partnership June 2015 e-newsletter
Other news-
  • Key lawmakers are sharply divided on how to extend Land and Water Conservation Fund, authority lapses September 30
  • Interior Department releases "Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2014"
  • Senators discuss possibility of a regulatory budget that would limit federal agencies' rulemaking abilities
  • Twin Cities activists say Lake Calhoun needs a new name, as the current one honors a pro-slavery South Carolinian
  • Scientists explore ways to keep synthetic estrogens out of rivers and seas
  • World Health Organization's cancer research agency places the herbicide 2,4-D on its list of "possible" carcinogens
  • Criticism comes "fast and furious" after WHO calls 2,4-D "possibly carcinogenic to humans"
  • U.S. Conference of Mayors' resolution urges Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • EPA issues new safety requirements for underground storage tanks to protect water sources from petroleum leaks
  • U.S. House approves bipartisan bill to update industrial-chemicals regulations for the first time in nearly 40-years (link to bill:
  • Army Corps finds 'low-level' radioactive contamination in two parks along Coldwater Creek (St. Louis County)
  • Ceres Trust calls for applications for competitive Organic Research Initiative program grants in 12-state North Central region; topics include ecosystem health, water conservation, soil, integrated systems
Politics and People-
  • Trent Kelly (R-MS-1), winner of a recent special election, is named to House Agriculture Committee
  • Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., announced Monday he will seek a sixth term in Congress
  • Green groups upset over Sen. Mark Kirk’s (R-IL) recent record on climate are mulling a campaign against his 2016 reelection
  • White House tries again to obtain Senate approval of Janet McCabe (Office of Air and Radiation) and Kenneth Kopocis (Office of Water) as assistant EPA administrators
Your Moment of Zen -
Photograph: Uli Deck/AP

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