H.R. 3671: Upper Mississippi River Basin Protection Act

H.R. 3671

Upper Mississippi River Basin Protection Act

Sponsor
Rep. Ron Kind

Date
March 16, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

H.R. 3671 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, March 16, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) on September 29, 2009, to the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3671 would direct the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the United States Geological Survey (USGS), to establish a nutrient and sediment monitoring network for the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The bill would direct the Secretary to establish guidelines for related data collection and storage activities, inventory the sediment and monitoring efforts of governmental and nongovernmental entities, data gaps, and redundancies, and collaborate with other public and private monitoring efforts in establishing the monitoring program. H.R. 3671 would also direct the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a water resources assessment of the Basin. The Director of the USGS is required to establish: a computer modeling program of nutrient and sediment sources in the Basin, and an Internet-based system to distribute information about nutrient and sediment loss reduction projects and nutrient and sediment levels in the Upper Mississippi River and its tributaries.

This bill authorizes $6.25 million in each fiscal year, subject to appropriations, for a program to provide a sediment and nutrient monitoring network for the Upper Mississippi River Basin. These authorization levels would do not sunset. The monitoring would collect data on the sources of sediment and nutrients, and would record changes over time. The measure also requires the U.S. Geological Survey to create computer models to identify significant sources of sediment and nutrients, and to create a system that uses the Internet to distribute information about these matters. The measure authorizes an additional $650,000 for the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a comprehensive assessment of water resources in the Mississippi Basin.

 

Background

In 1972, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act) sought a goal of maintaining swimmable and fishable waters. The Act established the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) in which approximately 70,000 permits have been issued to enforce water quality standards. Water quality of the nation's inland waters improved greatly during the next 20 years. In the U.S., there are 21,000 waters that are not expected to meet their intended uses, even with permitted discharges. Many of these stream and lake segments are in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, primarily impacted by sediments, nutrients and fecal coliform bacteria. The Upper Mississippi River still fails to meet the goals of the Clean Water Act. Spawning areas are often covered with silt by soil erosion, nitrate concentrations exceed drinking water standards in many locations, bathing beaches are closed due to fecal coliform bacteria in the water, and algae choke many waterways due to eutrophication (the excessive rate of addition of nutrients).

Cost

A CBO score for H.R. 3671 was not available at press time; however, the legislation would authorize $6.9 million annually to carryout the requirements of this bill.