Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Army Corps of Engineers releases massive Missouri River Draft Adaptive Management Plan and EIS for public comment


posted by Missouri River Relief - Dec. 21, 2016


 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a revised management plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Missouri River Recovery Program, intended to help the recovery of three endangered species – the pallid sturgeon, the piping plover and the interior least tern.

This massive document, which provides alternatives to Missouri River management in order to comply with the Endangered Species Act, was released last week, along with a schedule of public meetings and a public comment period. The proposed plan utilizes Adaptive Management to allow managers to more quickly adopt changes based on what the latest science reveals.

Despite the staggering size of the series of documents associated with the DEIS (2,300 + pages), the public comment period is 70 days (ending February 27, 2017). At least one group, the “Coalition to Protect the Missouri River” (an industry group based in Missouri) is petitioning the Corp of Engineers to extend the public comment period.

There will be public meetings throughout the basin in February.

Monday, May 18, 2015

April 17, 2015, diesel spill near confluence of Mississippi and Missouri Rivers

Blogmaster's note - This post is a month after this incident, which was reported regionally for about two days after the event. We recently read an account of the spill from Mike Clark of Big Muddy Adventures that was so compelling we wanted to make sure it was available on the web for those attempting to research this incident. It gives a very personal, powerful account of the downstream effects of the spill which were not reported in the media. Jump to his report here.

Some reporting -

Background - 
On April 17, 2015, the Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery reported a 25,000 gallon diesel spill (later estimates state 30,000) from a ruptured underwater pipeline in Cahokia Canal, near Wood River, IL, which flows into the Mississippi River just upstream of its confluence with the Missouri. The leak was stopped and US Coast Guard crews and contractors attempted to contain the spill in Cahokia Creek. It was not completely contained, as Mike Clark's account below shows.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Coast Guard seeks Missouri River user comments on navigation

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River is conducting a Waterways Analysis Management System (WAMS) study of the Missouri River between January 8th and April 8th, 2015.

The Missouri River study includes the navigable waters from Sioux City, Iowa to St. Louis, Mo. and specifically targets the navigation channel, marking of the navigation channel, and commerce.
The study will include looking at waterborne commerce and safe commercial and recreational navigation with a focus on the existing aids to navigation in Missouri River system. The studies are conducted periodically to better understand the user's needs and facilitate safe and effective waterways.

Click here for the pdf User Survey, which must be submitted by April 10, 2015.

Any interested company or individual wishing to provide recommendations on existing or additional aids to navigation in this area, participate in a user survey, or receive further information should contact Sector Upper Mississippi River Waterways Management by April 10th, 2015. Waterways Management can be reached at SUMRWaterways@uscg.mil or by calling 319-520-8556.

Some of the aspects addressed by WAMS are:
•           Are all the aids necessary?
•           Should aids be added, changed or removed?
•           Is the right aid being used for the job?
•           Are the aids marked in a correct and visible manner?
•           Are these aids being used properly by both the Coast Guard and the waterway users?

Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River will hold a public listening session from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on FEBRUARY 25, 2015 to present, and receive feedback on the Missouri River Waterways Analysis and Management System (WAMS) study. 

The listening session will be held at the Jerry Litton Visitor Center, located at Smithville Lake, 16311 DD Hwy, Smithville, MO 64089.

Additionally, any interested company or individual wishing to submit comments on existing or additional aids to navigation in this area, participate in a user survey, or receive further information can do so via the user survey available HERE. The completed questionnaire must be submitted no later than April 10, 2015 and may be emailed to sumrwaterways@uscg.mil or faxed to 314-269-2742, ATTN: Waterways Management.

It is the intent of Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River to collect comments and materials from this listening session, along with navigation surveys, and other information to establish and preserve the reasonable needs of navigation on this river. For more information, please contact Sector Upper Mississippi River Waterways Waterways Management at SUMRWaterways@uscg.mil

Monday, June 11, 2012

Public Comment wanted on Corps Jameson Island chute extension


 Text by Steve Schnarr, followed by links to several resources about the project. 

An ongoing controversy that is hitting the headlines once again surrounds the completion of the Corps of Engineers constructed chute on Jameson Island Unit of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge near Arrow Rock, MO.

Public Comment is currently being accepted by the Corps regarding the latest phase of the project, extending the chute downstream. The Missouri Clean Water Commission is also considering whether to allow the project. In 2007, the project was halted when the Clean Water Commission put a stop order on chute construction and the dumping of sediment into the river.

The Corps is attempting to gain permission on a project that would extend the chute, moving the mouth downstream. They have proposed four alternatives on the chute construction, and the deadline for public comment on those alternatives has been extended to June 30 due to public and state pressure. The four alternatives are 1) no action, 2) Excavate a 75-foot pilot channel for the chute and stockpile the sediment along the banks, 3) Excavate the entire planned 200 foot width of the chute and stockpile the sediment outside the limits of the chute’s planned meander and 4) dredge a pilot channel for the chute, injecting all sediment as a slurry into the Missouri River.The Corps preferred alternative is #4. They say this will be the least expensive option that has the least environmental impact.

The original stop order from the Clean Water Commission was because the Corps was dumping excavated sediment into the river. The Commission said that dumping sediment in the river was illegal for developers and farmers and it should not be legal for the Corps of Engineers. The Corps stopped work on the chute, which was eventually opened up by natural high river flows. In last year’s high water flows the chute took more of the river’s flow than allowed. This past winter the Corps placed a flow and grade control structure near the head of the chute to reduce and control flow through the chute.

The Corps also requested a study be done by the National Academy of Science into the impact on water quality and gulf hypoxia by their restoration projects, which always involve introducing new sediment into the river either by excavation or erosion. The NAS study was released in 2010 and concluded that the Missouri River and the Mississippi Delta are starved for sediment, nearly 80% of which is trapped behind the mainstem Missouri dams. NAS saw no significant impact from the projects.

The Corps agreed to requests to extend the public comment period. There will be a public meeting on June 11, and the public comment period ends June 30.

This post will contain a variety of links and photos regarding the project to help you understand the history, context and meaning of the controversy. 

Corps Public Comment and documents related to the Jameson Island Chute
Clean Water Commission Meeting – 5-2-12
Newspaper Articles
Marshall Democrat News articles, Marshall, MO
Opinion
Science

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Asian Carp may find back way

Originally published May 13, 2012 in the Albert Lea Tribune - Albert Lea, MN.
Click here for original link. 

MINNEAPOLIS — There’s a back door for Asian carp to sneak into Minnesota, and fisheries officials are worried that the invaders might have found it already.

Commercial fishermen recently caught dozens of Asian carp in northwestern Iowa’s Great Lakes, one of that state’s most popular vacation spots. Those waters connect with lakes and streams in southwestern Minnesota, so the haul came as an unwelcome surprise to Minnesota officials who’ve been more focused on the higher-profile fight against Asian carp infiltrating up the Mississippi River.

“We view it as a big threat. …These fish don’t recognize political boundaries,” said Ryan Doorenbos, area fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Windom.

No bighead or silver Asian carp have been caught in southwestern Minnesota, but a few have been netted on the east side of the state in the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers. Officials have been trying for a few years to develop a strategy to stop them from advancing up the Mississippi past Minneapolis, but they’ve just started studying their options for the southwest.

Returning to the River

Video originally published May 12, 2012 on WOWT - Omaha. 
Click here for original link and to view video.

by Gary Smollen
The impact of last summers flood along the Missouri River can still be seen in many areas. People are returning to the river but in some cases some efforts to make things right have been slowed by bureaucracy and thieves.

All along the river there are piles of sand and silt left behind by the receding water. As the Missouri returned inside its banks the people started returning to their recreational areas but it some cases they were totally wiped out.

Channel 6 News was there as one campsite was evacuated last year, on Saturday we returned to see how things have changed.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Officials advise caution with low releases

 Releases from Gavins Point Dam reduced to zero with spillway tests

This article was originally published in the Yankton Press & Dakotan on May 9, 2012
Click here to read original news story link.

Also, here's a couple links to Yankton P&D stories regarding the same story:
From P&D Staff Reports
The National Park Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are reminding the public to use caution today (Wednesday) as releases at Gavins Point Dam will be halted in order for a damage assessment to be conducted.

Water releases will be reduced beginning at 6 a.m. and continue incrementally until they reach 0 cfs. The releases will remain at 0 cfs for no more than eight hours and will be slowly increased back to normal flow levels. The river level is forecast to drop by eight feet at Yankton and will fall to similar levels downriver. Flow levels may change without notice.