House bill threatens BWCA protections

The Freshwater Society blog publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

House bill threatens wilderness protection
Language in a Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, passed two months ago by the U.S. House, threatens to undo wilderness protections for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Supporters of current restrictions on motorized use of the BWCA are attempting to keep the measure, which is backed by some hunting and fishing groups, from being  attatched to the 2012 Farm Bill in the Senate. Read environmental reporter Dennis Lien’s Pioneer Press article on the controversy.

Many boaters violate laws on invasives
The first numbers are in on intensified efforts to police Minnesota boaters’ compliance with laws aimed to curb the spread of invasive species. And the numbers are not good. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said 20 percent of the boaters checked in a stepped-up enforcement effort violated the laws.

Between May 12 and June 6, the DNR issued 193 criminal citations, 463 civil citations, 975 written warnings and 267 verbal warnings. Last year about 850 citations or warnings were issued to violators of Minnesota’s AIS laws. That compares with 293 citations and warnings issued in 2010. Read the DNR news release.

Don’t forget: Clean Water Act lecture set June 25
Don’t miss the June 25 free public lecture on the federal Clean Water Act 40 years after it was enacted.

G. Tracy Mehan III, an environmental consultant who was the top water-quality official in the Environmental Protection Agency from 2001 to 2003, will deliver the lecture at 7 p.m. in the theater of the Student Center on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.

The lecture is sponsored by the Freshwater Society and the university’s College of Biological Sciences.

The lecture is titled The Clean Water Act After 40 Years: What Has It Accomplished? How Do We Fulfill Its Promise?   Learn more and register to attend.

Wisconsin eyes penalties in frac sand spills 
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is weighing a penalty to be imposed on two sand mines for large spills in the St. Croix River.

In both of the spills, the mining companies were not meeting their permit conditions. Wisconsin DNR enforcement specialist Deb Dix said one site had no erosion control structures, and the other used soft sand to build a berm.
–Minnesota Public Radio

Firms join UN push for water efficiency 
The United Nations has received support from chief executive officers at 45 companies, from Levi Strauss & Co. to Coca-Cola Co. (KO), in an effort to use water more efficiently.

The companies joined the UN Global Compact in committing to improve water-management practices during a meeting in Rio de Janeiro, according to a statement. The compact is the world’s biggest organization backing sustainability measures.

Public responds to mercury warnings 
Got mercury? If so, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency warns that it’s important to manage it properly to protect yourself and the environment, and to avoid significant health and legal problems.

In recent weeks since a statewide news story about a Floodwood, Minn., man trying to sell 64 pounds of mercury on Craigslist, the MPCA and county collection centers have fielded dozens of tip calls from people with mercury to turn in. One Minnesota county hazardous waste facility took in 20 pounds of mercury as a result of the news story.

Consistent with current practices and despite the one-time mercury purchase by the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, none of the people who subsequently surrendered their mercury received any payment for the hazardous waste.
–MPCA News Release

EPA approves $880 million Everglades clean-up 
Federal environmental regulators approved an $880 million state plan intended to dramatically reduce the flow of farm and suburban pollution into the Everglades. Both sides hailed the agreement as a milestone in a decades-long dispute over cleaning up the River of Grass.

If approved by two federal judges, it would commit Florida to a major expansion of projects intended to clean up storm run-off before it flows into the Everglades, adding to the $1.8 billion the state has already poured into cleanup efforts.

In a letter announcing the approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, regional administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming said the state’s plan represented “a significant and historic milestone in restoring America’s Everglades.”
–The Miami Herald

Grafton, Ill., plant to process Asian carp 
A formal agreement is in place for a new company in Grafton to process Asian Carp harvested from the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers and send them to markets in China, but state assistance for the plant is not yet in place.

Businessmen from China were in Grafton to meet with local investors to officially announce the plan that could mean nearly 40 new jobs in Grafton once the plant is open.

A representative of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said the state was supportive of the venture, but no specific details of a state financial plan were released. The Chinese group has entered into an agreement to buy between 30 and 40 million pounds of the fish over the course of a three year contract.
–The Alton Daily News