Rules on invasives; an ag-environment discussion

Each week, the Freshwater Society publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

New invasive species rules in effect
Minnesota anglers must drain their portable minnow and leech buckets when they leave any waters — not just waters infested with invasive species — if they want to keep their bait under a bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton.

 The bait bucket provision, one of several affecting the state’s 1.4 million anglers, goes into effect immediately and is intended to fight the spread of invasive species.

Before, anglers were required to empty portable bait buckets of water only after leaving infested waters. Anglers will have to bring extra water if they want to keep their minnows and leeches alive, officials said. Then after draining their bait buckets at landings, they can refill them with clean water. It’s illegal to dump bait in lakes or on the ground, and most public accesses don’t have garbage cans.

 The law also requires the state’s 800,000 boaters to place a free invasive species decal on their boats. The stickers will remind boaters to comply with the laws, including draining all water and removing vegetation or invasive species from boats and trailers. That provision goes into effect Aug. 1, and the DNR will distribute the stickers this summer.

 Another major provision gives the DNR more authority to inspect boats at public or private locations where boats are in plain view, if officers believe they might be infected. It allows the DNR to set up check and decontamination stations that are not at boat landings, where boaters will be required to stop.
–The Star Tribune

Agricultural crossroads: Food, fuel and the future
Have a beer or a glass of wine while you ponder the future of U.S. agriculture in the context of the competing demands for food, fuel and environmental protection.

 A Sip of Science — a combination happy hour and serious scientific discussion –will look at current and proposed goals and strategies for agriculture at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, at the Aster Café. The café is at St. Anthony Main, 125 SE Main St., Minneapolis. 

Participants will be:

  • Nick Jordan, a University of Minnesota professor of agronomy and plant genetics and an agro-ecologist.
  • Tony Thompson, a farmer and conservationist from Windom.
  •  Warren Formo, executive director of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Coalition.
  • Jim Kleinschmit, director of the Rural Communities program at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
  •   Anna Clausen, a landscape architect focused on building resilient rural communities through alternative land-use plans.

Music will be provided by Mother Banjo, a one-woman band featuring Ellen Stanley.

A Sip of Science, a monthly discussion of scientific topics,, is sponsored by the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics at the University of Minnesota. For information, go to http://www.nced.umn.edu/content/sip-science-agricultural-crossroads-food-fuel-and-future.

 The bad – and good – news on invasive round gobies
When John Janssen, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, found a round goby in Calumet Harbor in 1994, he feared the worst.  The round goby, a small fish with an almost endearing wide-eyed stare, reproduces prolifically and eats voraciously. Mr. Janssen and other scientists expected it to gobble up eggs of prized sport fish and hog the mussels and snails that other fish would normally eat.

Now, millions of round gobies are thriving in the waters of Lake Michigan off Chicago and throughout much of the other Great Lakes. But as is often the case with invasive species, their ecological impact has not been devastating, but complicated — even beneficial in some cases.

Like the majority of the 185 known invasive species in the Great Lakes, the round goby arrived in the ballast water of ocean-going ships that came down the St. Lawrence Seaway into the lakes. It was first seen in the St. Clair River between Lakes Huron and Erie in 1990. Mr. Janssen was the first to identify one in Lake Michigan.
The New York Times

Wisconsin panel rejects pollution rule
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted to overturn rules regulating nonpoint pollution in the state.

Both houses of the Legislature will have to approve the measure. For now, regulations stay in place until new rules are written.

Nonpoint pollution – the kind of pollution that comes from farm fields and city streets – is the largest source of water pollution in the state.

The committee’s action drew criticism from environmental groups. Amber Meyer Smith, program director for Clean Wisconsin, says her organization fears that lawmakers want to weaken the regulations.

The River Alliance of Wisconsin called it a “giant step backward.”

Ken Johnson, water division administrator with the Department of Natural Resources, said the agency needs to talk to lawmakers to learn what kind of changes they are seeking.
–The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Evidence of lunar water mounts
It’s not raining on the Moon, but it does seem to be getting wetter and wetter.

For decades, the prevailing view of the Moon was that it was dry. Then, two years ago, a NASA probe crashed into a deep crater near the Moon’s south pole, and confirmed large amounts of water ice within the shadows. Meanwhile, measurements by an orbiting Indian spacecraft suggested that a veneer of water,  generated by the bombardment of solar wind particles, covered much of the Moon’s surface.

Now, scientists analyzing tiny fragments of hardened lava from long-ago lunar eruptions report that the fragments contain about as much water as similar magmas on Earth, meaning there’s plenty of water inside the Moon, too.
–The New York Times

 Research tracks water flow through L. Minnetonka
Lake Minnetonka’s 26 bays and 125 miles of shoreline make it a desirable destination for sportsmen, boaters and well-heeled homeowners. Its high level of use and complex eco-system also make it a perfect subject for water quality researchers.

But until now, no one knew how to predict how water flowing into an enormous lake—and the land use activities on its shores—affected its water quality.

University of Minnesota Water Resource Science graduate student Shane Missaghi has cracked the code of predicting the water quality of a complex lake like Minnetonka with a computer program that promises to be an effective tool for improving a lake’s water quality and shoreline restoration efforts.

Missaghi’s program is a three-dimensional computer model that simulates the path of a lake’s water by tracking 200 x 200 x 0.5 meter grids of water as they enter, circulate and exit the lake. “We’ve known what goes into the lake, but we haven’t known how to follow the water along its path,” he says. “Until now there was no way of predicting the water quality in all the different areas of the lake.”
–University of Minnesota Water Resources Center 

Stepped-up search for Asian carp begins
The annual hunt for Asian carp around Chicago has begun in earnest, yet again. But this year, federal and state officials said they have taken their battle against the fish to a new level, employing a handful of novel tools and strategies to detect and dispel the pesky species.

 New efforts include an underwater carp camera, fine mesh nets intended to catch larvae and a large water gun that creates a barrier by emitting sound waves underwater, said John Rogner, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

“We’ve got to step it up another notch,” Rogner said. “We’re not letting up.”

 Rogner’s comments came during an Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee news conference held on the Chicago River.

 This spring marks the third year of carp monitoring on Chicago waterways. The focus on larvae and smaller fish follows a finding in March that the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal’s electric-dispersal barriers were effective for large fish, defined as 5.4 inches or longer.
–The Chicago Tribune

 Stearns County water testing offered
The Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District is offering a free nitrate water-testing clinic from 4-7 p.m. June 9 in the atrium of Marketplace Mall, 110 Second St. S, Waite Park.

To participate, homeowners must bring at least one-half cup of water in a clean plastic or glass container. Allow the tap to run five to 10 minutes before taking the sample. Homeowners that maintain a nitrate removal system should take one sample before and one after the treatment process.

 Samples should be taken no more than 24 hours before the testing. Mark the container with a name, phone number and a well identification number if more than one well is sampled. Homeowners who choose to remain anonymous should identify their water sample by another easily recognized number.

The process usually takes less than five minutes and results will be given directly to the homeowner.
–The St. Cloud Times

Taconite mine to pay water pollution penalty
Northshore Mining Company recently agreed to pay a $26,087 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for alleged water quality permit violations at its Peter Mitchell taconite ore mine near Babbitt.  The company has completed one of the stipulation agreement’s requirements and must adhere to a compliance schedule to resolve the remaining violations.

 The company’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System/State Disposal System permit authorizes Northshore Mining to pump water (effluent) out of its open pit mine and discharge it to surface waters.  The permit requires the company to sample effluent from pump-out locations to ensure it is clean enough to meet its permit limits.  Northshore must also monitor and meet required effluent limits at the mine’s domestic wastewater treatment plant.

 The enforcement action covers effluent limit violations that occurred between October 2009 and March 2011.  The most frequently occurring violation was for failing to meet pH requirements in the water at four mine pump-out monitoring stations.  Other violations were for total suspended solids and un-ionized ammonia levels.  Three violations of biochemical oxygen demand also occurred at the facility’s wastewater treatment plant.
–MPCA News Release

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