Posts tagged rivers.
Communities Work to Hold Back Storm-Swollen Waterways
A tiny, flood-prone community breathed easier after shoring up a makeshift levee holding back the rain-swollen Mississippi River. Other Midwest communities scrambled to fend off waterways that threatened to overflow as more storms marched through the region.
Volunteers hustled earlier this week to shore up weak spots in a levee hastily built last week to stop the Mississippi from overrunning the flood-weary hamlet of Clarksville. At times toiling in heavy rain, crews built a second wall of dirt and sandbags behind the original barrier and now calm has been restored. The Mississippi appeared to be receding, ever so slowly, from the community 70 miles north of St. Louis.
Annual spring floods. Short term approaches.
The fish could be causing major problems for Louisiana’s coastal fisheries in eight to 10 years if nothing is done.
Asian carp, including species such as bighead and silver carp, were introduced in the Midwest in the 1970s to clean murky fish farm ponds. The fish are filter feeders, munching microscopic plant and animal plankton from the water. Flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers caused ponds to overflow, allowing Asian carp to escape into other rivers and reproduce in the wild.
These fish eat voraciously and reproduce rapidly. One fish reproduces three to four times a year, releasing between 100,000 to 3 million eggs each spawning, Parola said. They have no major predators and can eat more than 20 percent of their body weight in algae and plankton a day. Asian carp can weigh up to 100 pounds. With their large size and hunger for plankton, they could pose a threat to native species.
Flooding. The Grand River, downtown Michigan. Note the bridge.
You know a flood is bad when a Duck paddles past your window…
…belonging to Anderson Eye Care at the Riverfront Plaza Building in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., as The Grand River reaches an all time high of 21.85 feet, a full 2.2 feet above the record set in 1985. Previous water levels can be seen marked on the wall.
Picture: AP Photo/The Grand Rapids Press, Cory Morse
Spring floods have arrived. Above, streamgauge data showing today’s floods along the Mississippi River and local tributaries just north of St. Louis Missouri.
Streamgauges small machines placed in a water body, such as a river like the Mississippi, or an aquifer underground. So, streamgauges measure the flow and height of rivers and water supply around the country. They help cities and governments manage dam and levee systems, drinking and agricultural supply, and help emergency crews evacuate homes and businesses when appropriate.
They’re critical infrastructure. And they serve to increase the health, safety, and welfare of 100’s of millions of Americans.
Nearly 400 streamgauges may be shut down due to Obama’s budget cuts. The U.S.Geological Survey (USGS) has a map of gauges scheduled to be shut down, here.
I’m used to rivers that know what they’re doing.
The spill is the latest incident in what one county official described as ‘perfect storm’ of manure problems around the state.
A million gallons of manure broke through a concrete-walled pit in southeastern Minnesota late Sunday night, fouling two trout streams before making its way into the Root River, in a major spill that has compounded widespread manure runoff problems in farming counties.
U.S. Drought Monitor - April 2013
Brutal wildfire year lies ahead for the west and south west.
While water allocation, drought, and fires seems to be the theme of climate adaptation for 2013, pollution and conservation will play a dual role. The EPA has announced that nearly 55% of U.S. rivers and streams are in rough shape - mostly due to little to know local interest.
More than half of the country’s rivers and streams are unable to support healthy populations of aquatic insects and other creatures, a survey of nearly 2,000 locations by the Environmental Protection Agency reported Tuesday.
The study found more than 55 percent of the rivers and streams “in poor condition, 23 percent in fair shape, and 21 percent in good biological health,” The Associated Press noted. High levels of nutrient pollution—phosphorous and nitrogen from farms, cities and sewers—were found in the waterways. Phosphorous was found in 40 percent of rivers and streams.
Land development along waterways was found to have enabled erosion, flooding and the introduction of pollutants as well.
“This new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,” said Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator of the EPA’s water office. “We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nation’s streams and rivers, as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities and play a critical role in the economy.”
Pecos River is running with cows - A warning sign of climate impacts to come, drought in the southwest obliterates rivers, snow pack, and aquifers used by farmers in New Mexico. Above, the Pecos River in New Mexico is dry for the first time in recent memory.
Farmers in Carlsbad were told last week that they will be allotted 10% of their previous water supply. Thus, a southwestern water war has begun. Welcome to the Anthropocene.
Just after the local water board announced this month that its farmers would get only one-tenth of their normal water allotment this year, Ronnie Walterscheid, 53, stood up and called on his elected representatives to declare a water war on their upstream neighbors.
The drought-fueled anger of southeastern New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers is boiling, and there is nowhere near enough water in the desiccated Pecos River to cool it down. Roswell, about 75 miles to the north, has somewhat more water available and so is the focus of intense resentment here. Mr. Walterscheid and others believe that Roswell’s artesian wells reduce Carlsbad’s surface water.
For decades, the regional status quo meant the northerners pumped groundwater and the southerners piped surface water. Now, amid the worst drought on record, some in Carlsbad say they must upend the status quo to survive. They want to make what is known as a priority call on the Pecos River.
A priority call, an exceedingly rare maneuver, is the nuclear option in the world of water. Such a call would try to force the state to return to what had been the basic principle of water distribution in the West: the lands whose owners first used the water — in most cases farmland — get first call on it in times of scarcity. Big industries can be losers; small farmers winners.
The threat of such a move reflects the political impact of the droughts that are becoming the new normal in the West. “A call on the river is a call for a shakeout,” explained Daniel McCool, a University of Utah political scientist and author of “River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers.”
“It’s not going to be farmers versus environmentalists or liberals versus conservatives,” he said. “It’s going to be the people who have water versus the people who don’t.” And, he said, the have-nots will outnumber the haves.
Dudley Jones, the manager for the Carlsbad Irrigation District said that water law and allocation practice have long diverged. “We have it in the state Constitution: First in time, first in right. But that’s not how it’s practiced.” In New Mexico’s political pecking order, his alfalfa farmers, despite senior priority rights dating back 100 years, have little clout. The state water authorities, he said, “are not going to cut out the city.”
“They’re not going to cut out the dairy industry,” he added. “They’re not going to cut off the oil and gas industry, because that’s economic development. So we’re left with a dilemma — the New Mexico water dilemma.”
A priority call, said Dr. McCool, “will glaringly demonstrate how unfair, how anachronistic the whole water law edifice is.”
He added, “The all-or-nothing dynamic of prior appropriation instantly sets up conflict. I get all of mine, and you get nothing.”The prior appropriation system on the Pecos has its beginnings in the late 19th century. Its waters flow about 925 miles from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico, ending up in the Rio Grande in Texas. It has been a focus of conflict. Texas, saying upstream users were taking its share, won a 1987 Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing deliveries under the Pecos River Compact.
Two members of the Natural Resources Defense Council explain how the taxpayers, coastal homeowners and climate change are all connected.
Phoenix Arizona’s pyramid of complexities looks shakier than most because it stands squarely in the crosshairs of climate change. The area, like much of the rest of the American Southwest, is already hot and dry; it’s getting ever hotter and drier, and is increasingly battered by powerful storms. Sandy and Katrina previewed how coastal cities can expect to fare as seas rise and storms strengthen.
Doom read of the day: “Superheated American City Dealing with 110 Degrees for 33 Days — Phoenix Confronts Apocalyptic Climate Change”
Phoenix pulls back the curtain on the future of inland empires. If you want a taste of the brutal new climate to come, the place to look is where that climate is already harsh, and growing more so — the aptly named Valley of the Sun.
He subtly makes the case to adapt rivers and ports to climate change.
President Obama said Tuesday that federal investments in waterway maintenance will be vital as drought fueled by climate change creates problems for barges bringing goods out of the Midwest.
Obama, during a meeting of the President’s Export Council, noted recent problems moving goods when last year’s major drought lowered water levels in the Mississippi River.
“Recently we had the challenge of … getting goods from the Midwest down the Mississippi when the water started going down,” Obama said.
He said the upcoming White House budget proposal would seek to address maintenance needs.
“And if in fact temperatures are warming — I know this is not our climate change meeting — but I think we can anticipate that we may end up having some challenges in terms of managing our waterways well, whether or not we can continue to use barges to move a lot of product out of the American heartland to ports around the world, that is going to depend on our infrastructure,” Obama said.
“So we are going to, in our budget, continue to push Congress to see if we can essentially deal with deferred maintenance,” he added in emphasizing the importance of waterway and port infrastructure.
The president touched on climate change very briefly during wide-ranging remarks about U.S. export and trade policy.
In adventurous work sponsored by the BLM, Pam Groves and Dan Mann - both researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks - in summer 2012 found in the thawing bank of a northern river almost the entire skeleton of a steppe bison that died during the last ice age.
Read the full article: Alaska Dispatch
I and some climate adaptation colleagues visited this a few months ago. The country graciously wined and dined us. Great trip. Here are some pics.