Friday, October 9, 2015

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource Weekly News

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

This Week . . . But Not Next
The long, blue-green, Ohio River bloom continues to get longer, bluer and greener by the day. Fed mostly by nutrient-laden farmland runoff, the fluorescent toxic algal bloom is garnering local, regional and national media and agency scrutiny, but little attention in the halls of Congress, where deliberations this week centered on brokering a Republican-White House comprehensive, 2017 fiscal year budget deal, and determining who will occupy the House Speaker's chair next (It won't be House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. It may be Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.).

After today's House session, both Congressional chambers will be darkened until October 20, when Members of Congress return in a refreshed, post-recessed state of mind to face several looming deadlines, including the need to raise the country's debt ceiling (in early to mid-November, depending on who you listen to), the soon-to-expire surface transportation authority (October 29), and another government funding deadline (December 11). Authorization for the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund has already expired, and when Congress returns, expect to see renewed attempts to resurrect the program's funding stream - in the forms of stand-alone legislation and amendments to other bills, such as the Senate measure to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act. Blocking the LWCF path to reauthorization is the contention by some in Congress that the program should be amended to allow the sell-off of federal lands to help reduce the national debt.

Expect the Ohio River algal bloom to continue next week.

The best bits of the week's water-related news are amassed below.  Or, if you're not that hungry, check out our concise, single-paragraph, compilation in "What We Learned This Week - "A Bridge Too Far."
Noteworthy @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week

Photo: Bill DeReamer, WLKY
Water Quality -
  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial: A green river: Spreading algae on the Ohio is cause for concern
  • Toxic algae bloom now stretches 650 miles along the Ohio River - more than two-thirds of the River’s length
  • Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission: Ohio River states to decide how and where companies test to quantify mercury released into waterway
  • Murray Energy Corp. sues Obama administration over documents tied to a rulemaking for protecting waterways from mining
  • EPA reaches settlement with Wayne County, Missouri landowners for Clean Water Act violations (placing fill in stream)
  • National Wildlife Federation sues U.S Department of Transportation over alleged failure to protect people, environment from oil pipeline spills into inland waters
Water Resource Management (Floodplains, Dams, Navigation, Wetlands, Flooding, Supplies, etc.) -
  • Army Corps of Engineers publishes Interim List of water resources development projects identified for deauthorization under WRRDA; Projects are worth about $14 billion. Comments sought for 90 days (until Jan. 4, 2016)
  • NY Times: With Flood Insurance Rare, Homeowners Have Little Recourse
  • On Illinois farm, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) discusses need to fund dam and lock upgrades on the Mississippi River
Agriculture -
  • South Dakota announces launch of a campaign to help state farmers and ranchers maintain and improve wildlife habitat
  • Obama administration has decided that environmental sustainability won't be factored into new US dietary guidelines
Climate and Weather -
  • NOAA US weekly drought update: rains erase long-term Oklahoma drought, dryness; parts of Arkansas see driest September ever; Midwest short-term dryness expands
  • Agri-Pulse: Climate change and agriculture: Challenges and opportunities
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
  • Sand County Foundation releases report touting species saved without listing them under Endangered Species Act
  • Federal court rejects central premise of EPA rules to reduce spread of invasive species through ship ballast water
  • Pennsylvania drafts new 10-year wildlife action plan on how to “keep common species common”
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources takes additional measures in response to Lake Koronis starry stonewart discovery
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service lists black pinesnake as a threatened species (Louisiana,
    Mississippi and Alabama)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to list Kentucky arrow darter as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act
  • Fish and Wildlife Service: Endangered Species Act protections are not warranted for 19 species, including Cumberland arrow darter (Kentucky) and Tennessee cave beetles
  • USDA to invest $4 million in assistance for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to improve honey bee food sources
  • Photo essay on restoration of Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid in Wisconsin explores reasons for decline, recovery plans
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirms zebra mussels in two lakes (Wright County and Eden Prairie)
In the Cities -
  • Frac sand industry's downturn is leaving Wisconsin and Minnesota towns such as Winona with
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    an uncertain future
  • Dubuque, Iowa wants to look closer at building a hydroelectric plant on the Mississippi River
  • Memphis and New Orleans make top ten in list of most stressful US cities based on congestion, other factors (St. Louis and Minneapolis further down list)
  • Designers chosen to improve sense of place in  Bentonville, Fayetteville, Springdale, and Rogers, Arkansas
Click to enlarge
In the States-
  • In response to continued Pennsylvania budget impasse, Gov. Wolf imposes hiring freeze, travel restrictions on state agencies
  • Plastic microbeads in waters prompt states' regulatory efforts (including Mississippi River Basin states of Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin), while some attempts to regulate have failed (including Iowa, Minnesota
  • Wisconsin Land and Water Annual Progress Report released by Agriculture, Trade and Natural Resources departments
Gulf Coastal Region-
  • Federal officials finalize an over $20 billion deal with BP to settle lawsuits stemming from 2010 Gulf oil spill
  • Louisiana coastal marshes will be key focus of $8.8 billion BP will pay to restore 2010 oil spill natural resource losses
  • Louisiana Coastal restoration allies clash over plans to tap into BP oil spill fine money for a LA Route 1 bridge
  • Louisiana Environmental Action Network selected as EPA grant recipient to address Grand Bois, Louisiana environmental justice issues
Resource Development -
  • Moody's: Illinois Basin is economically the "most resilient" coal mining area due to low mining costs, proximity to coal-fired power plants
  • Arguments in Iowa are growing over when and how to decide fate of proposed four-state-long crude oil pipeline
  • Minnesota regulators hold off on issuing a key permit for the 600-mile Sandpiper pipeline project amid ongoing court challenges
  • Advocates withdraw their proposal to ban frac sand mining in Houston, County, Minnesota
  • West Virginia reaches an agreement with Patriot Coal that will set aside about $50 million for the coal company’s environmental cleanup responsibilities
  • Groups move to appeal federal judge decision upholding leasing of over 1.6 billion tons of federal coal
Federal Budget (You can follow the status of all of the fiscal year 2016 appropriation bills on this web page) -
  • President Obama vows that he will not sign another short-term funding measure
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: Wetland Restoration in Urban and Highly Disturbed Landscapes, October 13, 3 PM ET
  • America’s Great Waters Coalition schedules three nutrient pollution webinars with focus on six Great Waters, October 13, 20, November 10
  • Public meeting of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana; October 21, 9:30 am, Baton Rouge
  • FEMA Technical Mapping Advisory Council meeting (open to public); re: national flood mapping program; USGS Headquarters, Reston, VA; October 21, 3-4 PM ET
  • Missouri workgroup to meet on November 10 in continued discussions on proposed numeric nutrient criteria for lakes
  • Fall 2015 Storm Water Virtual Expo (Free); November 10, 10 am - 5 pm ET
  • USDA National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council meeting, Denver, Colorado, November 16 and
  • Save the date: 30th anniversary celebration for the Conservation Reserve Program, Capitol Hill, December 2, 6-8 PM
e-Newsletters, Publications, Journals, Multimedia  -
Other news-
  • Top Democrats seek Senate floor time on bipartisan bill to permanently reauthorize  Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • Lake Calhoun signs updated to include the lake's Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska (Minnesota)
  • Senators dismiss tying lapsed conservation fund to chemical reform
  • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) introduces legislation to roll back USEPA liability protections (referred to Judiciary Committee)
  • Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations are invited to nominate waterways for the “2016 Pennsylvania River of the Year” through Oct. 23
  • EPA awards Friends of the Kaw; Kansas City an environmental justice grant to teach water quality classroom lessons and field work
Politics and People-
  • Washington Post: Are think tanks obsolete - more like the Detroit of the 1990s than of the 1950s?
  • City Councilman Jim Strickland defeats incumbent Memphis Mayor A C Wharton
Your Moment of Zen - 

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