Sunday, May 3, 2015

Missouri River dams too toxic to drain as corps cancel Spring Pulse

Lewis and Clark Lake is 30% full of sediment.
Last month, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released a report that showed that no lakes, and only a few streams, in the Minnesota portion of the Missouri River Basin met state standards for supporting aquatic life and recreation, meaning they are not safe for fishing and swimming. None of the lakes in the Missouri River Basin met the aquatic recreation standard. [Fulda Free Press]
Findings of more than a hundred studies on individual dam removals were published recently in the journal Science. Here's a snip from the abstract:
Forty years ago, the demolition of large dams was mostly fiction, notably plotted in Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang. Its 1975 publication roughly coincided with the end of large-dam construction in the United States. Last year's removals of the 64-m-high Glines Canyon Dam and the 32-m-high Elwha Dam in northwestern Washington State were among the largest yet, releasing over 10 million cubic meters of stored sediment. [ECOLOGY: 1000 dams down and counting]
Low-head dams can be lethal. As silt fills irrigation diversion dams lower quality water with higher salinity enters the system ultimately rendering soils incapable of supporting life. Snow and rainwater capture provide much higher quality water for irrigation likely making the beleaguered Lewis and Clark boondoggle obsolete before it's finished or even fully funded.

Aquifer sources are not considered high quality water for irrigation but fossil water from limestone contains the minerals that made us human. Note the huge number of Hutterite communities applying for permits awaiting approval at South Dakota's Department of Ecocide and Natural Ruination to pump dwindling aquifers.

Some want to dredge Lewis and Clark and sell the silt as frac sand because its too toxic to remediate.

A study released 2 April in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that the renewable fuel requirement is transforming the Midwest landscape.
The massive increase in corn ethanol production has led growers to plow up millions of acres of grasslands to produce more corn and soybeans, degrading water and air quality and destroying critical wildlife habitat. How much more evidence will it take before Congress gets serious about reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard and putting that last nail into the coffin of the corn ethanol mandate? [AgMag Blog]
After cutting NASA's budget John Thune and the GOP leadership are postulating that Earth science being conducted by the agency is not real science.
SDSU scientists Bruce Millett and W. Carter Johnson, working with Glenn Guntenspergen of the U.S. Geological Survey, tracked 95 years of weather data from 18 weather stations throughout the region. They published that far-reaching study, “Climate trends in the North American prairie pothole region 1906-2000” in 2009 in the journal Climatic Change and have continued to research the topic since then. They chose the 18 weather stations for the completeness of the weather records available at those locations and because the 18 sites are well distributed across smaller ecoregions within the Prairie Pothole Region, or PPR. “Drainage of wetlands in the wetter, eastern PPR has lowered the potential of the PPR to produce waterfowl in a warmer greenhouse climate,” the scientists wrote in their study. [Nixon, SDSU scientists: Climate change may limit size of nation’s “duck factory”]
The frequency of dams on the Missouri River system is killing native fish and the game industry is restocking with non-native species.
Agriculture is the single largest source of nutrient and sediment pollution entering waters of Southwest and West Central Montana. [Upper Missouri Waterkeeper]
There was too water in the upper Missouri basin last October but because of low mountain run-off the US Army Corps of Engineers has cancelled (pdf) the 2015 March and May Pulses putting the success of spawning endangered pallid sturgeon at further risk of extinction while threatening the entire river system itself.

Rivers often disperse the extra sediment from behind a dam within weeks or months of dam removal. Removal of the Fort Edward Dam on New York’s Hudson River released so much contaminated sediment that the river was later named a Superfund site. A similar fate would befall the Missouri River if dams were not dredged before being decertified; but, migratory fish would recolonize newly accessible habitat within a matter of days.

We are truly fucked.

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