CSG's upcoming webinar, "Restoring the Mississippi River Watershed" will highlight an initiative driven by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and Louisiana Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne called the "Big River Works." Please join us at 2PM/Eastern on October 9th for this informative event. For registration information, please click here.

Water is critically important to Michigan. “If you ask most people in Michigan about the importance of water, they would say, ‘it’s the essence of our being’ or ‘it’s the essence of our living’ or ‘it’s the essence of our life,'” said Patty Birkholz, a former state senator and current director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes. Just look at the state—it touches four of the five Great Lakes and is almost completely surrounded by water. Agriculture, manufacturing and tourism—the state’s three largest industries—depend on the Great Lakes.

The Council of State Governments recently joined briefs supporting state and local government in two cases heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. The briefs, filed by the State and Local Legal Center, both involve the interpretation of the Clean Water Act.

Stateline Midwest ~ September 2012

First came the report from a binational group of Great Lakes scientists exploring the risk of Asian carp entering the freshwater system. Yes, the study concluded, the invasive species would likely survive and, within a decade, spread to all five Great Lakes. And yes, the Asian carp’s ecological impact would likely be severe. Then, days later, came news that Lake Erie water samples, two from Michigan’s North Maumee Bay and four from Ohio’s Sandusky Bay, tested positive for the presence of Asian carp environmental DNA.

States have been reclaiming and restoring thousands of abandoned mine sites that pre-existed federal environmental laws. To cope with the environmental and public safety threats they pose, Congress passed legislation in the late 1970s charging fees for coal production that were disbursed back to states for remediation efforts. Recent changes made by the Transportation Reauthorization bill have altered and cut the payment structure for many states still dealing with the long-term ramifications of abandoned mines.

A signing ceremony last week set up the world’s largest water quality cap-and-trade program. It’s not centered in Europe or on the east or west coasts, but in the Midwest.  Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio became the first states to adopt the same set of trading policies and procedures to limit the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous—or nutrients—running off into the Ohio River. Farmers will adopt best practices that limit nutrient runoff. Power and wastewater treatment plants will be able to buy those credits, even across state lines, to help offset their environmental impact.

Representatives from the states of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio signed an agreement today in Cincinnati to create the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Program - a pilot program that will allow farmers and industrial facilities to trade pollution credits to reduce fertilizer run-off and nutrient discharges. Trading is scheduled to begin in 2015 from at least three power plants and up to 30 farms for the implementation of best-practices on agricultural land that will eliminate up to 45,000 pounds of nitrogen and 15,000 pounds of phosphorus annually into the river.

Stateline Midwest ~ March 2012

With concerns high about the potential impact that an Asian carp invasion could have on the $7 billion Great Lakes fishing industry, policymakers have another dollar figure to consider — $4.3 billion, the lowest-cost option for physically separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds.

Although the Air Force has acknowledged a spill from an underground pipe leak at Kirtland Air Force Base back in 1999, officials have recently projected the spill volume to have ballooned to over 24 million gallons - nearly twice the size of the Exxon Valdez accident. A full remediation plan from the Air Force is not expected until 2014, but county officials, environmentalists, and concerned citizens worry that the drinking water of Albuquerque and other outlying areas could be seriously threatened.

Arkansas' Attorney General Dustin McDaniel recently intervened in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups against the EPA regarding agricultural run-off of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen in the Mississippi River. The groups, led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, contend that the run-off contributes to hypoxic or "dead" zones in the Gulf of Mexico which are deprived of oxygen and marine life.