March 1, 2016
Water News and More from the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy
SCOTUS Backs Bay Clean Up Plan The Chesapeake Bay is a mighty fine bay but not one without trouble. With so many people living, farming and doing business around it the waters of the bay have long suffered from things that wash and blow off of the lands in the 7 state (including the District of Columbia) watershed. Five years ago those states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. EPA announced a plan to reduce nutrient loads in the Bay. Hands were shaken, backs were slapped, and glasses were raised as hopes for the Bay improved. Then, of course, law suits were filed to stop the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint from taking effect. Specifically the American Farm Bureau Federation, 22 states and others challenged the legality of the plan and EPA’s process for setting Total Maximum Daily Loads for nitrogen and phosphorus. In 2015 a Federal Appeals Court upheld the plan which led to an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. On February 29, SCOTUS declined hear that appeal, bringing the saga to a close, at least in the courts. At least for now.
Louisiana Gets a New Coastal Czar Who Calls for Sense of Urgency Johnny Bradbury was recently appointed the new chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. At his introductory meeting last week, Bradbury called for an agency that operates with a sense of urgency and for moving forward on river reintroductions as a way to nourish a collapsing coast. It turns out that this is an issue across much of the globe. Scientists using radar mapping have found that two thirds of the world’s largest deltas are sinking– some very quickly. The study is another reminder that river deltas rely on tricky balances of freshwater, sediment, and sea levels, and people are severely messing with all three, so that even a sinking delta can have too much sediment in inconvenient places.