Friday, September 18, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

Two Groups, Two Meetings, One Future
This week two groups working toward realizing a more sustainable Mississippi River met over three days in two different River Basin cities to discuss their respective visions for the River region and its people.  The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, a group of 68 mayors from towns along the River's length, held its annual organizational meeting in Dubuque, Iowa.  Seventy-five miles to the northeast, representatives of the Mississippi River Collaborative along with supporting national partners, gathered in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Initiative mayors discussed their priorities and agenda for the upcoming year - focused in part on addressing the impacts of nutrient-laden runoff on River and Gulf of Mexico water quality. The mayors acknowledge that nutrient loading to the Mississippi River - nitrogen and phosphorus; primarily from agricultural operations - has degraded local and Gulf coastal waters, and believe that the greatest opportunities for success in reducing those impacts lie in forging solutions in cooperation with the farming sector.  The mayors also elected Chris Coleman, mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Hyram Copeland, mayor of Vidalia, Louisiana, to co-chair the group over the next year.

The Collaborative met to review its recent progress and to plan future initiatives designed to advance Mississippi River water quality improvements, and wetland restoration and protection. Funded by the McKnight Foundation, the Collaborative's goals in the ten-state Mississippi River corridor are to leverage its members' respective capabilities to restore the water quality and resilience of the Mississippi River, restore and protect floodplains and wetlands, achieve cross-boundary and interagency coordination among government agencies, and reduce agricultural pollution (particularly within the northern River region).

Water, nutrients, restoration, sustainability, agriculture, people, health.  The issues coincide.  The visions overlap.  A common future seems assured.

Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Water Quality -
Waters of the United States Rule
  • States appeal Judge Lisa Wood's August WOTUS decision; suit now goes to U.S. Court of
    Appeals for the 11th Circuit
  • States continue legal push before two federal appeals courts to block WOTUS rule implementation
  • EPA and farmers continue to spar on Clean Water rule
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller downplays NRCS involvement with new clean water rule
  • 47 senators file resolution to kill the Obama administration's controversial clean water rule using the Congressional Review Act (CRA allows measures to pass on only a simple majority vote-see this GAO web page for more information)
Other Water Quality News
  • Iowa Environmental Council op-ed (Des Moines Register): "Time to act on Iowans’ water quality concerns"
  • Opposing sides sound off at Pittsburgh hearing on new federal stream protection rule
  • Ohio coal executive: new Interior Department stream protection rule is "the single greatest threat" to the industry
  • Illinois coal miners fret over new round of federal regulations (Interior Department stream protection rule)
  • New Online USGS Pesticide Mapper—Predicting Pesticides in Streams and Rivers: Where is
    Source: USGS
    Water-Quality at Risk?
  • EPA's Office of Inspector General: scant evidence that costly sewer upgrades required by combined sewer overflow consent decrees are improving water quality
  • The Atlantic: Some of today’s sewers were built before bathrooms as we know them existed. It’s time to upgrade
  • Long way to go on cleaning Minnesota lakes, rivers and streams
  • EQB approves 2015 Water Policy Report that proposes solutions to Minnesota's pressing water challenges
  • Troubled waters: Is Minnesota at a turning point for water quality?
  • Minnesota stream buffer provision draws over 200 people to Kandiyohi County informational meeting
  • Allegheny River water quality holds steady despite Marcellus shale drilling waste water and other river contamination
  • EPA Report: "Managing Water Quality in the Face of Uncertainty" - a "Robust Decision Making Demonstration for EPA's National Water Program"
  • Murray Energy agrees to pay Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission $2.5 million to settle damages related to massive 2009 Dunkard Creek fish kill (Ohio River Basin)
  • Illinois EPA refers Vermilion County cattle farm operator to Attorney General for enforcement (water pollution)
  • U.S. EPA agrees to timeline for updating stormwater regulations under terms of settlement with environmental groups
  • USDA and USEPA announce new water quality trading resources
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Will a controversial plan restore Illinois wetlands or ruin them (re: Emiquon Preserve)?
  • Land parcels in Minnesota, Wisconsin added to St. Croix River wild and scenic river conservation efforts
  • Record amount of sediment dredged from Lower Mississippi River, helping restore marshland
  • Army Corps plans to prepare Integrated Draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement to investigate hydrologic and hydraulic problems threatening navigation, aquatic ecosystem habitat, recreation, flood damage reduction and existing infrastructure at the Three Rivers Study Site (Arkansas River Basin, Southeastern Arkansas)
  • Agencies announce availability of draft National Wetland Plant List 2015 and web site to solicit public comments
  • Kansas State University to create 'Living Laboratories' for green infrastructure stormwater and training project
  • Study: Water demand from fracking less than 1 percent of US total industrial water use
Agriculture -
Climate and Weather -
  • This summer was the hottest on record and 2015 is likely to win the same title when the year is over
  • NOAA weekly drought report: dryness expanded in northwest Kansas; drought active in southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, western Mississippi
  • New Orleans sees limits to climate adaptation efforts as sea level rises
  • Human-induced global warming is set to produce exceptionally high average temperatures this year and next
  • Rural Nebraska poll shows changing attitudes on climate change
Photo: Dick Schoenberger for MPR
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • State's loon population gets a helping hand in southern Minnesota
  • USDA: U.S. EPA's proposal to protect bees from pesticide exposure in farm fields is unrealistically restrictive; news article: and USDA letter:
  • Minnesota DNR chief: No guarantees for Mille Lacs winter walleye season
  • White Fringeless Orchid - found in wet soils of bogs, marshes, fens and swamps - proposed for Endangered Species Act protection in five states, including Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky (Federal Register notice:
  • Interior secretary hopes sage grouse won’t need federal protection
  • Fish and Wildlife Service to further review the need for protection of 23 species under the Endangered Species Act (links to list of species and petitions here:
In the Cities -
  • Sixty-eight mayors from 10 states are meeting in Dubuque this week at Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative meeting
  • Mississippi River mayors home in on water quality, climate to protect economies
  • The Atlantic: Why Doesn’t New Orleans Look More Like Amsterdam?
  • PRI Living on Earth: New Orleans is still vulnerable to another big storm
  • Wichita, Kansas will soon see 93 acres of urban wetlands become public park land with stormwater management elements
  • Missouri Botanical Garden Rainscaping Guide highlights BiodiverseCity St. Louis community initiative
  • Bakken oil boom turned into a money loser for most cities and counties in the North Dakota and Montana prairie region
  • Internet of things helping U.S. cities manage water resources
In the States-
  • Pennsylvania Senate Republicans proceeding this week with their plans to develop possible stopgap budget
  • Pennsylvania Republican stopgap state budget package moves forward in the face of a Gov. Wolf veto threat
  • Final version of Wisconsin's "Wetland Screening and Delineation Procedures" is now available
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • $52 million in restoration, river projects to be discussed this week at Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council meetings
  • Move mouth of Mississippi River, abandon communities part of experts’ new, startling recommendations for Louisiana’s future
Resource Development -
  • Local antifracking movement may stifle new drilling in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
  • Ohio and Pennsylvania try to block court approval of Patriot Coal's reorganization plan over cleanup concerns
  • Iowa regulators will hold hearings in November on allowing eminent domain for the Bakken Pipeline project
  • Assessed value of West Virginia's coal reserves and mining infrastructure has fallen more than $1 billion since 2013
  • New report finds federal subsidies for Powder River Basin coal amount to $8 per ton
  • Minnesota appeals court: environmental impact statement must be completed for controversial Sandpiper oil pipeline before it can be approved
  • Minnesota Appeals Court sides with "essentially all" of the arguments environmental groups made in halting the Sandpiper project while an environmental review is done
  • A Texas company is idling its frac sand operation in Marshfield, Wisconsin due to plunging oil prices
Federal Budget (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this web page)
  • Federal shutdown news: there's no Congressional plan-the only thing clear two weeks from the deadline is it will go down to the wire
  • Mega fiscal cliff looms as debt ceiling, and government and transportation spending all converge over next three months
  • House leaders expect the Senate will wait until House passes a continuing resolution before scheduling a Senate vote
  • Prospect of a second government shutdown in two years is growing as House conservatives fight Planned Parenthood funding
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
  • Webinar: Environmental Restoration Projects that Support Stormwater Management  September 22, 2-3:15 pm ET
  • Wisconsin Natural Resources Board to discuss changes to safe drinking water rules, walleye management, and Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Management Plan and Wildlife Action Plan at September 23 meeting in Bowler
  • Informational Webinars for EPA Water Quality Standards Regulatory Revisions Final Rule; September 28 and 30, 1 PM ET
  • Public meetings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assumable Waters Subcommittee re: Clean Water Act permit program for the discharge of dredge and fill materials; Washington, DC area; October 6-7 and December 1-2
  • 17th Annual EPA Region 6 Stormwater Conference; Hot Springs, AR, October 18-22
  • 3rd North America Congress for Conservation Biology, July 17-20, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
  • Lower Mississippi River Dispatch; No. 305, September 14; Missing: 120,000 gallons of Clarified Slurry Oil in Mississippi River near Columbus, KY
  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Waterfront Bulletin for September 2015
  • Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy, September 15 TUWaterWays e-newsletter
Other news-
  • Expert witness criticism at Senate hearing surprises sponsors of bipartisan regulatory reform bills (hearing web page
  • GAO to Congress: federal agencies failing to track risks posed by thousands of abandoned mines they oversee
  • WV PR: Farming could offer jobs for struggling families in West Virginia's coalfields, but it won't be easy
  • Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources seeks applicants for an assistant professor of ecological/resource/environmental economics
  • Interior Secretary urges Congressional reauthorization of Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • Washington Post: Congress is about to let the Land and Water Conservation Fund lapse. Here’s why you should care.
  • 57 senators urge leaders to pass a short-term extension of the Land and Water Conservation Fund before the end of September
  • New map highlights national parks preserved using Land and Water Conservation Fund and those at risk if Fund lapses
Politics and People-
  • Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman announces candidacy for U.S.  Democratic Senate nomination
  • All of the candidates for Kentucky governor blast EPA and back state environmental funding cuts
  • Washington Post-ABC News poll: 72% of Americans believe politicians cannot be trusted; 64% think political system is dysfunctional
  • Fort Wayne Journal Gazette editorial: "Hoosiers who believe climate change is imperiling lives, health and economic well-being are at a disadvantage" under Gov. Mike Pence administration
  • Partnership for Public Service study blasts Congressional dysfunction and partisanship for disrupting federal agencies' operations (PDF file)
Your Moment of Zen - 
From: The Atlas of True Names by Kalimedia

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