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NFC: Fw: [currents] RiverCurrents Online -- Week of January 7, 2000

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River News for the Week of January 7, 2000

MISSOURI/MISSISSIPPI NAVIGATION: Suspending summer barge navigation on
Missouri River will help Mississippi River barges, according to a Corps
Engineers study. Releasing 18,000 cubic feet per second from the
mainstem dams between July 1 and Aug. 20 would reduce the annual cost of
navigation on the Mississippi River below St. Louis by approximately $6
million, according to the Corps.  Conservation and recreation groups have
urged the Corps to adopt a "split season" for Missouri River navigation
aid recreation and river wildlife. More than 80 percent of the cargo
on the Missouri is transported during the spring and fall -- not during
summer, according to the Corps. The Corps is revising the Missouri's
Manual, the guide the federal river manager uses to set dam releases.
Current management of the Missouri River adds roughly $45 million in
costs to Mississippi River navigation, according to the Corps. A new
management plan proposed by basin states would cost Mississippi River
navigators $44 million per year. By contrast, the "split season" plan
cost Mississippi River navigators only $39 million per year, according to
the Corps. (American Rivers Press 1-6-00)

     *     *     *     *

WATER QUALITY: American Rivers praised Vice President Al Gore this week
promising to seek $1.3 billion for polluted runoff reduction programs for
the Midwest.  Last year American Rivers proposed a similar program for
tributaries to the Mississippi River in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa,
and Missouri. Gore's proposal would include $600 million to implement
management practices that reduce polluted runoff, $125 million for
easement programs, and $550 million for technical assistance to
Sediment and nutrients being washed off farms and backyards threaten
drinking water supplies, increase the cost of dredging the Mississippi's
navigation channel, and reduce habitat for river wildlife.

     *     *     *     *

ATLANTIC SALMON: Defenders of Wildlife, Trout Unlimited and several other
groups and individuals this week notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
and the National Marine Fisheries Services of their intention to sue over
the decision by the agencies to accept a conservation plan for the fish
rather than listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
suit will be filed within 60 days unless the agencies reconsider their
decision and list the salmon. The conservation plan was developed by the
Maine state government and industry to “knit together existing
and enlists biologists and landowners in a cooperative conservation
reports the Portland Press Herald (1-6-00). Conservationists say that
federal enforcement of conservation efforts and accountability is
to save the species, and that the plan provides no new funding or
enforcement authority. Rivers covered by the conservation plan include
Ducktrap and Sheepscot in midcoast Maine, and the Narraguagus, Pleasant,
Dennys, Machias and East Machias in Washington County.

A federal proposal to classify the Atlantic salmon in the eight Maine
as an endangered species has been released for public comment, with
being accepted until March 16th. Opponents of the listing proposal claim
that ”more than 100 years of stocking Atlantic salmon in Maine rivers has
diluted the original wild strains that all Atlantic salmon in Maine are
homogenized,” reports the Bangor Daily News (1-4-00). Therefore they are
different than the pen-raised fish and do not require protection under

     *     *     *     *

MISSISSIPPI RIVER PARASITE: Mississippi catfish farmers are on the
for a tiny grub, formally known as Bolbophorus confusus, that could cause
widespread economic harm. A handful of Delta farms was infested last
by the grub, which can kill smaller catfish and cause larger fish to stop
eating. As reports the Clarion-Ledger (1/2/00), farmers and state
agriculture officials want to use the Asian black carp to control the
parasite, but environmentalists fear the potential damage the carp would
have on the threatened snails and mussels that it would consume, as well
on the native fish such as paddlefish and buffalo and native sport fish
whom it would compete for habitat and food. The Lower Mississippi River
Conservation Committee, among other groups, is also “expressing concerns
about black carp and urging the state and the catfish industry to fully
explore the use of native fish, such as redear sunfish and freshwater
to control the grub.”

     *     *     *     *

SUSITNA RIVER: The Susitna River in Alaska is being threatened by jet
spilled from a train wreck last month which is now seeping into the soil
threatening to contaminate groundwater, reports the Anchorage Daily News
(1/7/00). Though railroad officials had hoped that the frozen ground
keep the 80,000 to 120,000 gallons of fuel from seeping into the ground,
they were surprised to find contaminated soil beneath several feet of
They will not know how deep the fuel has seeped until monitoring wells
be drilled.

     *     *     *     *

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week proposed
designate 894 miles of rivers and streams in Arizona and New Mexico as
critical habitat for the loach minnow and the spikedace, reports the AP
(1-4-00). With their proposal, more than 700 miles of rivers and streams
have been added to the original 190-mile 1994 proposal, including the San
Pedro river in which the minnows don’t currently live. It is considered,
however, the best river to provide for successful reintroduction of the
fish. New limits on logging, mining, grazing and urban growth will likely
imposed by the proposal, which came in response to the U.S. District
order that the agency “identify, designate and protect all streams
for survival and recovery of the 3-inch minnows found in the Gila River
basin of southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico.”

In Nevada, the Bureau of Reclamation is planning to build a fish ladder
the Derby Dam on the Truckee River to help the endangered cui-ui and
threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout reach their spawning grounds above
Derby Dam. As reports the Las Vegas Review Journal (1/7/00), the dam is
of three on the Truckee River, but the only one that prohibits fish
Installation of the ladder is considered the first step in a long-term
of removing the fish from threatened and endangered species lists.

     *     *     *     *

HUDSON RIVER: Documents released by the EPA this week have expanded the
on the Hudson River where contamination in fish pose an unacceptable
hazard to humans, reports the New York Times (1-5-00). The agency also
announced that “fish and wildlife in the lower Hudson below Poughkeepsie
the Battery in Manhattan will be plagued for decades by PCBs seeping from
upriver sediments,” reports the Albany Times Union (1/6/00). Release of
documents conclude an eight-year study of PCB contamination of the Hudson
River by General Electric. The EPA has not said that GE will have to
the upper river to remove buried PCBs, but say the documents provide
evidence that the river must be cleaned up. A GE spokesman claims that
buried PCBs pose no risk to people or the river, and that the company has
solved the problem by halting release of the chemicals into the river –
company had released 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls from
its Hudson Falls and Fort Edward plants for decades. The EPA will decide
a plan to clean up the river by the end of the year.

     *     *     *     *

CHICAGO RIVER: The Chicago river is looking at a bright future as the
of Chicago and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announce a
multimillion-dollar dollar project to restore the Chicago river bank at
sites and to toughen regulations against polluters, reports the Times
Albany (1/5/00). Other projects planned for the river include parks,
and canoe launches, and a new city ordinance requires new developments to
set back at least 30 feet from the river's edge. The changes are already
reflecting a much improved environment as environmentalists report that
60 species of fish now live in the river, from carp to small mouth bass

     *     *     *     *

HYDROPOWER: Little Horn Energy has again asked FERC to shelve its
application for the “elaborate and expensive high-elevation dam complex”
the Dry Fork of the Little Bighorn River in Montana. FERC is the
agency that oversees such hydropower projects. Representatives of the
company announced their plans following news that managers of the Bighorn
Forest refused to grant Little Horn Energy a required special-use permit
the project and that FERC has threatened to dismiss the company's
application, reports the Billings Gazette (1/5/00). Environmental groups
opposed the proposed project on the grounds that it would disturb vital
wildlife habitat which is reserved for “primitive” use. The company had
never applied for a special use permit which would require them to spend
much as $5 million to produce the required studies and details for the

     *     *     *     *

WHITE RIVER: Ammonia levels in the White River in Indiana remain high,
the Guide Corporation identified as the “only known company discharging a
chemical known as sodium dimethyldithiocarbamate into the sewer system,”
says Tom Bennington, superintendent of the Anderson wastewater treatment
plant. For two weeks now, industrial contamination has been passing
the Anderson wastewater treatment plant, continuing a massive fish kill
the White River. Officials from the Guide Corporation acknowledge using
chemical but say there is no proof that it is causing the massive fish
reports the Indianapolis Star (1/5/00). The company claims it stopped all
discharges from its wastewater pre-treatment plant Dec. 19 after hearing
reports of the fish kills. Carbon disulfide is no longer appearing in the
water, though ammonia levels remain two to three times above normal.

     *     *     *     *
MINING: Ikerd-Bandy Co., a subsidiary of Ashland-based Addington
Enterprises, has requested permission to remove 500,000 tons of coal from
seam 250 feet beneath 227 acres of the Daniel Boone National Forest in
Kentucky, to the dismay of environmentalists. The procedure would take
via a tunnel dug in from privately held property next to the coalfield.
Environmentalists say that so much coal could be pulled from beneath the
earth that mountains would collapse in on themselves and release polluted
water into the area. The operation could mean the end to the Daniel Boone
National Forest says Raleigh Adams, a former coal miner. By law, mining
companies must leave enough coal behind to limit the number of possible
collapses, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader (1-5-00). This marks the
first application for federal mining rights beneath the Daniel Boone to
before the Kentucky Department for Surface Mining Reclamation and
Enforcement, which took over coal permitting from the federal government
November 1998.

Interested in Legislative Policy Updates? Email Suzy McDowell at
smcdowell at amrivers_org with your name, address with nine-digit zip code,
email to be placed on the weekly river policy update listserve.

American Rivers is also involved in a campaign to reform operations by
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore habitat for river wildlife and
reduce future flood losses. To receive periodic updates on this activity,
email Suzy McDowell at smcdowell at amrivers_org with your name, address
nine-digit zip code, and email address.


For more news, visit American Rivers at www.amrivers.org