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Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study published; public hearings scheduled

The GLMRIS Report presents the results of a multi-year study regarding the range of options and technologies available to prevent aquatic nuisance species (ANS) movement between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins through aquatic connections. Through a structured study process, USACE identified thirteen ANS of Concern established in one basin that posed a high or medium risk of adverse impacts by transfer and establishment in the opposite basin. USACE analyzed and evaluated available controls to address these ANS, and formulated alternatives specifically for the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) with the goal of preventing ANS transfer between the two basins.

The report contains eight alternatives, each with concept-level design and cost information, and evaluates the potential of these alternatives to control the transfer of a variety of ANS. The options concentrate on the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) and include a wide spectrum of alternatives ranging from the continuation of current activities to the complete separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. The GLMRIS Report also includes an analysis of potential impacts to uses and users of the CAWS, and corresponding mitigation requirements for adverse impacts to functions such as flood-risk management, natural resources, water quality, and navigation.

READ MORE: http://glmris.anl.gov/glmris-report/
DOWNLOAD Summary Report pdf at
http://glmris.anl.gov/documents/docs/glmrisreport/GLMRISSummaryReport.pdf

$15 billion Chicago tunnel plan not directly tied to stopping Asian carp

While companies like sewer cleanup in dallas are working hard on providing the best services for houses and offices reading their drain problems, work continues on Chicago’s big dig — a massive tunnel and reservoir system to protect against storm-driven floods and sewer overflows. The project is expected to take more than a half-century. Now the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a new tunnel and reservoir project that would nearly double the storage capacity of the one underway. It’s part of the agency’s plan to block Asian carp from invading Lake Michigan. Great Lakes advocates call it overkill.

Read more at: http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/bulk-of-15-billion-plan-not-directly-tied-to-stopping-asian-carp-b99198589z1-244565881.html#ixzz2t1vtJS9c

National Wildlife Federation report on Great Lakes Wetlands

Interesting report today concerning wetlands in the Great Lakes area from the National Wildlife Federation.  On the whole, I think the authors did a commendable job for folks that want to bone up on the status of the 404 and 401 wetland permitting programs in these states.  But I found a couple of things that bugged me a bit from the perspective of a mitigation banker — and a citizen.

 

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Click logo for the report

 

First, they continue to harp on the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s flawed study a few years back (p.66) indicating ecological short-comings in a sample of mitigation banks.   I have always maintained this study supports my contention that non-profit efforts to restore wetlands – banked or non-banked – tend to do poorly. 

 

If I remember correctly 7 of 9 of the sites studied in Ohio were non-profit efforts.  In other words, the sponsor did not have a personal financial stake in the ecological outcome of the restored wetlands.  I consider most of the benefits of mitigation banking – not all, but most — to be derived when the bank is a for-profit activity for which the sponsor will be held personally and financially accountable.  The motivation (financial reward for properly restoring a wetland) is more important than the method (banking, off-site consolidated, etc.)  We need to move away from wetland restoration as the province of part-timers and do-gooders 9god bless tham all) and toward a system of professionals personally invested in the outcome of the restoration effort.

 

Second, the authors do not stress large-scale agricutural restoration as public policy moving forward.  They go into exhaustive detail concerning the permitting of wetland losses, but short change the potential to restore those areas once considered “lost.” 

This is a subject you will hear more from me on.  Academics and wetland advocates tend to fight only the last war – protecting wetlands – when additional and incremental efforts would be more effectively focused on the next war:  Restoring the millions of acres ditched and drained for agriculture during the orgy of government funded wetland draining of the 20th century.  Restoring wetlands is not as politically saleable as the pained cries to “Save” the “fragile” acres here and there.  The wetland protection industry of NGO’s and government bureaucracy depend on the boogey man of development to drive interest and support — rather than taking responsibility for reversing the course of failed public policies. 

 

Dramatic gains for water, or any gain at all for that matter, cannot come from lowering the wetland loss in Ohio from 300 acres to 200 a year.  (Or whatever the figures are).  Worthwhile gains (the kind we owe children) will only come from stopping the subsidy of farming in formerly drained wetlands — and paying for their restoration.

 

 

 

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This figure is not from the NWF report, but it helps illustrate my 2nd point.