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NFC: Fw: [currents] RiverCurrents Online -- Week of April 30, 1999
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River News for the Week of April 30, 1999
MISSISSIPPI, MISSOURI RIVERS: The House of Representatives this week
approved legislation that dramatically expands habitat restoration
for the Upper Mississippi and Missouri rivers, reports an American Rivers
press release (4/29). HR 1480, the Water Resources Development Act of
increases annual spending for the Environmental Management Program, the
primary habitat restoration program for the Upper Mississippi River, from
$19.5 million to $33.2 million. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Reps. Ron
(D-WI) and Jim Oberstar (D-MN) led efforts to expand the program, which
restores lost side channels. HR 1480 also creates a new habitat
program for the Missouri River, a provision championed by Reps. Kenny
Hulshof (R-MO) and Pat Danner (D-MO), that allows the Army Corps of
Engineers to modify rip-rap to create shallow slow-flowing habitat.
* * *
HANFORD REACH: On April 23, DOE released a Revised Draft Hanford Remedial
Action Environmental Impact Statement and Comprehensive Land Use Plan
EIS). This EIS focuses on future land use and will determine land use
classifications for the entire Hanford Site for at least the next 50
DOE’s preferred alternative would designate the vast majority of the
Slope for preservation. By contrast, the alternative submitted by local
governments would open up about 2/3 (almost 60,000 acres) of the Wahluke
Slope to agriculture. The Wahluke Slope now faces greater threats than
other uncontaminated area within the Hanford Site. Public hearings on
Hanford land use plan will take place May 18, 20 and June 3. Please see
http://www.amrivers.org/hanford-action.html for more information.
* * *
DAMS: American Rivers and Trout Unlimited are teaming up to release a
report identifying the top candidates for dam removal across the country
reporting on the top dam removal success stories. Changing societal,
economic and environmental factors are making the selective removal of
an important -- and often highly economical -- river restoration tool.
aging and deterioration of many dams presents a unique opportunity to
restore rivers and often save money. Nominations are now being sought for
dams to be included on these lists. The goals of this joint report are
twofold. First is to highlight the unprecedented river restoration
opportunities provided by removal of unneeded or environmentally damaging
dams through highlighting already successful dam removals. Second is to
promote and support campaigns for removal of the specific dams on the
Unwanted Dams list. Dams selected for inclusion on the Unwanted Dams list
will either no longer serve the purposes for which they were built or
have environmental, social and/or economic costs that outweigh the dam's
benefits. Rivers selected for the Success Stories list will have had a
removed from the river (it need not be recent), and can demonstrate clear
river restoration results stemming from the removal.
* * *
WATER POLLUTION: Water pollution rules that focus on chemical sources are
overshadowing the threat posed by microbes such as viruses and bacteria,
states a report by the American Society for Microbiology. The report
that "microbial pollutants in water," such as E. coli, cryptosporidium,
giardia, hepatitis A and Pfiesteria piscicida, are a much greater risk to
communities than chemical pollutants. Pumping human waste into rivers,
lakes, and other water sources is responsible for the majority of
contamination. According to the report, drinking water standards set by
US Environmental Protection Agency put limits on 70 chemicals, but only
microbe, coliform bacteria.
* * *
SALMON: The National Marine Fisheries Service is being sued by a
of landowners in Seattle who claim that the agency created the need for
month’s salmon listings due to their poor management of the salmon
resources. As reports the Wall Street Journal (4/28), the coalition
Sense Salmon Recovery” accuses the NMFS of failing to adequately regulate
salmon fishing by commercial and tribal interests while controlling
activities of salmon predators. Some environmentalists believe the
is “just a stalling tactic” by landowners and developers.
The NMFS is also feeling the heat from environmental and fishing groups
Oregon and Washington who officially notified the agency that they will
the agency “if it does not issue regulations to protect threatened
trout in the lower Columbia and Snake river basins,” reports the Portland
In Maine, the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee is responding to
threat that Atlantic salmon may be listed under the federal Endangered
Species Act by “increasing funding for and authority of watershed
that are working to restore Atlantic salmon populations on five Down East
rivers.” As reports the Bangor Daily News (4/29), the proposed bill (LD
2206) would provide $200,000 over the next two years to the councils to
restore salmon habitat and to undertake pollution prevention projects.
Rivers affected by the bill include the Dennys, East Machias, Machias,
Narraguagus and Pleasant rivers in Washington County.
* * *
MISSOURI RIVER: The discovery of the first zebra mussel in the Missouri
River has officials worried, and indicate that significant changes are
forthcoming. Initial worries concern the cost that power plants and
municipal water systems will experience in the effort to keep intake
clear of the mollusks. A second concern is keeping the mussel from
further inland. As reports the Omaha World Herald (4/28), mussels can so
encrust water pipes, water control gates, and other structures that they
become inoperable. Because the mussels feed on plankton, the Missouri
paddlefish could also be devastated since it too feeds on plankton.
* * *
DAMS: When the Quaker Neck Dam came down last August, the Neuse River in
North Carolina “joined a growing dam-busting movement that aims to reopen
U.S. rivers to the saltwater fish that spawn upstream.” As reports the
Charlotte Observer, N.C. (4/29), scientists are watching for striped bass
and American shad to reclaim the upper Neuse river. For the last 50
striped bass have not been able to travel past Goldsboro, where the dam
blocked off 78 miles of the river and 900 miles of tributaries. The
now working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove additional
unneeded dams or build passages around them.
* * *
FISHING: The US Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a ban on lead
fishing sinkers in national wildlife refuges, reports the Boston Globe
(4/25). Environmentalists protest that the toxic sinkers are harmful or
fatal to loons when swallowed. The ban would only be applied in refuges
where loons have died or been put at risk.
* * *
SANTA CRUZ RIVER: The Tucson City Council has agreed to restore the Santa
Cruz River in Arizona and will let the city seek federal and Pima County
funding to put water back into the river. The project involves cleaning
garbage that has been dumped into the river, and filling holes created by
sand and gravel companies. Restoration of trees and aquatic plants is
included in the plan. (Tucson Arizona Daily Star, 4/26).
* * *
SAN PEDRO RIVER: Fort Huachuca faces a suit filed by the Southwest Center
for Biological Diversity and has been charged with violating federal
environmental laws, says the Tucson Arizona Daily Star (4/22). The suit
demands a study of Fort Huachuca’s impact on the San Pedro River.
* * *
COLUMBIA RIVER: The Olympic Pipe Line Co. of Washington plans to build a
231-mile fuel pipeline across the Cascade Mountains. Supporters claim
the pipeline would eliminate the risk of spills from the more than 350
gasoline and diesel barges that travel the Columbia River. Opposition to
pipeline wishes to protect the rivers, forests, mountains, and desert
the pipeline would traverse, reports the Portland Oregonian (4/26).
* * *
TIMBER: The Washington state legislature will soon vote on a proposal to
new rules between state and private timberland owners as to how close to
salmon streams logging can occur. The plan would compensate harvesters in
tax relief or cash buyouts for removing land from use, reports the
Times (4/24). The timber industry favors the deal, viewing it as a way to
overcome the salmon crisis as well as to avoid lawsuits over the northern
spotted owl. Environmentalists, however, say that the plan is
to salmon and to taxpayers.
* * *
PECONIC RIVER: Environmental groups claim New York’s Peconic River is
tainted with heavy metals from the Energy Department’s Brookhaven
Laboratory, reports the New York Times (4/24). Community activists are
asking the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to post
warnings in heavily fished areas of the river, but the New York Dept. of
Health reports that the amount of radioactivity found in the river’s fish
and soil is safe for human consumption.
* * *
CALIFORNIA RIVER: A Nevada dairy has been fined $250,000 for dumping 1.7
million gallons of cow waste into the Amargosa river, that eventually
its way to the California River. As reports the San Diego Union-Tribune
(4/29), the dairy released the waste over two days, prompting complaints
from neighbors about the mess and smell.
* * *
NIANTIC RIVER: Fish in the Niantic River in New York are enjoying a small
reprieve after a Connecticut judge issued an order that prevents
Utilities from restarting the Millstone 2 nuclear
reactor on the Long Island Sound. As reports the New York Times (4/28),
temporary restraining order is being put into place until Superior Court
Judge Robert J. Hale can rule on a lawsuit filed by Fish Unlimited and
groups. The groups contend that the reactor would devastate local
and other fish that are drawn into the water intake pipes used to cool
from the generator. The utility company claims that it could cost as
$80 million to repair the cooling tower.
For more news, visit American Rivers at www.amrivers.org