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River Network’s Science & Policy Blog helps river advocates stay up-to-date on news, tools, and resources related to legal, policy and technical developments related to restoration and protection of river and wetland habitats. The blog is updated regularly by Katherine Baer, Director Of Science & Policy, and Gayle Killam, Habitat Program Deputy Director. We also welcome your comments and guest bloggers.
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Community Engagement Associate
Five stories and resources you won't want to miss from the week...
Keystone XL Permit Denied…For Now
Everyone is abuzz today about the Obama Administration’s decision to not issue a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline by the pending February 21 deadline. While this is good news, the pipeline’s proponent – TransCanada – may reapply for the permit with an alternate route for the pipeline. Coverage includes the Washington Post, NPR, the Los Angles Times, and many other outlets.
New Program to Address Agricultural Pollution Piloted in Minnesota
Probably the most interesting and edgy story of the week was about a new effort being piloted in Minnesota which would “certify” farmers who tackle certain pollution control strategies. The Star Tribune described the deal this way: “Farmers who participate would agree to follow land management practices that slow soil erosion and runoff of fertilizers, pesticides and manure into streams and groundwater. In exchange, they would get financial and technical support and be protected against new environmental requirements during the life of their agreement, perhaps as long as 10 years.” To learn more, explore the USDA’s press release and coverage from the San Francisco Chronicle.
New Report: “Water Reuse: Potential for Expanding the Nation’s Water Supply through Reuse of Municipal Wastewater”
The National Research Council has released a new report – Water Reuse: Potential for Expanding the Nation’s Water Supply through Reuse of Municipal Wastewater.. U.S. EPA co-sponsored the report and their announcement of the report’s release reads: “The report highlights the potential that reuse of municipal wastewater can play in augmenting traditional water supplies, particularly in areas that are experiencing or expect to face challenges in meeting demand for water…. The report will also inform efforts underway to revise and update EPA 2004 guidelines for water reuse.”
The Great Lakes, “the Commons,” and the Public Trust Doctrine
Circle of Blue posted a really interesting article about the Great Lakes that hasn’t generated as much buzz as I think it certainly deserves. The long and pretty darn meaty article discuss the momentum behind ideas to protect the Great Lakes that really on two fundamental legal ideas: “They are intent on applying two ancient governing and legal principles — defining the Great Lakes as a shared “commons,” protected by the public trust doctrine — to reverse the deteriorating condition of the largest system of fresh surface water on earth.” Read the article to understand the possible power behind applying these two ideas to the Great Lakes, or to other water resources for that matter.
Rethinking Agricultural Water Use Efficiency and Productivity
For those of you with an interest in the technical side of water quantity issues (and how those issues relate to water quality), we blogged this week about a new paper from the always-interesting Peter Gleick and his colleagues at the Pacific Institute. The new paper rethinks how we look at the issue of agricultural water use and efficiency and issues such as co-benefits (e.g., improved water quality, energy ramifications). The paper and Gleick’s associated blog posting are well worth the read for anyone working on water in the West.