Water

Several states authorize the appointment of emergency managers or some other authority to take over localities in times of economic crisis. Since the recession in 2008, several cities across the nation have been threatened by financial insolvency and states have stepped in to attempt to prevent bankruptcy or to ensure residents continue to receive essential services. However, as details of the recent water crisis in Flint, Mich. continue to emerge, questions have arisen as to the role emergency managers played in this tragedy. The...

CSG Midwest
In the weeks following congressional passage of an omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2016, Great Lakes advocates were hailing the federal legislation as a victory for protecting and restoring the world’s largest system of fresh surface water. As has been the case in past budget cycles, future funding levels for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiativehad been in doubt. President Obama, who helped create the GLRI during his first year as president, had called for a $50 million reduction in funding for FY 2016.
But the final budget maintains funding at $300 million, and it also formally authorizes the initiative — a move that will put it on more solid footing during the annual budget-making process in Washington, D.C.

The Clean Power Plan

On Aug. 3, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan, which is expected to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The rule sets target emissions reductions for states and states are responsible for designing their own plans to meet these emissions reductions targets...

CSG Director of Energy and Environmental Policy Liz Edmondson outlines the top five issues for 2016, including the Clean Power Plan, the rise of U.S. natural gas production, water quality and quantity, the use of science-based decision making, and electricity transmission and grid reliability. 

CSG Midwest
Under a new plan to reduce harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, the state of Michigan is putting a greater emphasis on the fight against two of the freshwater system’s most destructive invasive species. The Department of Environmental Quality released its multipronged strategy in November.
CSG South

Throughout the history of the United States, water has been the key to determining settlement patterns and development opportunities. It is migratory in nature and often crosses many boundaries, a characteristic that has generated ownership disputes and countless conflicts. Every state in the contiguous United States shares ground or surface water resources with another state, and almost every major city is located near a river or body of water.

Water resource scarcity can affect many sectors of a state's economy as well as the region's natural ecosystems. The Southern United States, characterized by a network of major rivers and tributaries, and generally abundant precipitation, has enjoyed a generous water supply. Consequently, the region has not experienced the water disputes that have plagued the Western United States. However, development pressure, changes in precipitation patterns, and transitioning priorities and consumption levels have caused a shift in these circumstances. When water shortages do arise, they often can cause interstate conflicts. Perhaps one of the most widely reported and longest running of these interstate disputes in the Southern region involves Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, known as the "tri-state water wars." The tri-state water wars have spanned 25 years and center on water resource allocation in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) and the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) River Ba sins. Recognizing the importance of this dispute and the impact the resolution will have on the states involved, the issue has remained relevant to the ongoing policy work of the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments, the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC). This third review of the issue advances the developments and actions that have occurred since the SLC last reported on the conflict in 2010. Additionally, it should be noted that The Council of State Government's Center for Interstate Compacts has more than 75 years of experience in promoting multi-state problem solving and advocating for the role of states in determining their respective futures.

This SLC Issue Alert serves as an update to the 2010 SLC Regional Resource, Water Allocation and Management: Southern States Outlook and the earlier, 2000 SLC Regional Resource, The War Over Water and examines developments up to December 14, 2015.

CSG Midwest
With enactment of the Great Lakes Protection Act in October, Ontario is not only deepening the province’s commitment to the freshwater system, it also is hoping to spur more locally driven projects and initiatives. Glen Murray, the province’s minister of the environment and climate change, says the new law (Bill 66) is needed to help the lakes “withstand the impacts of the changing climate and keep them drinkable, swimmable and fishable for generations to come.”
CSG Midwest
In the decades of battling invasive species and trying to mitigate their economic and ecological impacts, one point has become abundantly clear to Mike Weimer and other fish biologists. “Prevention is by far the most effective strategy,” he told legislators at this fall’s Great Lakes Legislative Caucus meeting in Buffalo, N.Y. So ever since Asian carp appeared to be dangerously close to entering the lakes via the Chicago Area Waterway System, states and the federal government have been pouring millions of dollars into a wide range of prevention plans.
New electric fish barriers have been built. The movement and presence of Asian carp continues to be intensely monitored, in part through cutting-edge eDNA technologies. Commercial fishing operations (hired by the state of Illinois) have removed more than 3 million pounds of Asian carp.
As co-chair of the state-federal Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, Weimer is helping oversee these and many other prevention strategies. In 2015 alone, he told lawmakers, the committee will fund a total of 43 projects at a cost of $74 million. Its goal: Protect a Great Lakes fishery that has an estimated value of $7 billion.
CSG Midwest
What can $1.7 billion in federal funding do to help restore an invaluable resource in the Midwest? Quite a bit, at least according to a recent federal study outlining the progress made during the first five years of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, or GLRI.
CSG Midwest
Hundreds of miles downstream from the farm fields of Iowa and the municipal water systems of Wisconsin, an enormous toxic “dead zone” continues to plague the Gulf of Mexico. This year, the zone — unable to support aquatic life due to an overgrowth of algae that sucks up all the oxygen — was measured at 6,474 square miles, bigger than some states.
All of the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution that enters the Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to its mouth in Louisiana contributes to this environmental, and economic, problem.
What is the solution?
Science-based assessments show that in order to eliminate these dead zones, nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Gulf of Mexico needs to be reduced by 45 percent.
“It’s going to take much more than a tweak here and a tweak there,” Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says about meeting that goal. But that is the objective that his state has set under its nutrient-reduction strategy, which came from Iowa’s long-standing involvement in the Hypoxia Task Force: a state-federal partnership working to shrink the size of the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone.

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