Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fixing Louisiana?

I have spent some time in southern Louisiana getting briefings from the researchers and government agencies involved in wetland restoration. Here is an good set of  comments from the Environmental Defense Fund.

"Louisiana has lost 25% of its coastal land area since 1930 and continues to lose land at an alarming rate – one football field every hour, on average. Man-made levees along the Mississippi River cut off many small distributaries, like Mardi Gras Pass, from the wetlands in the floodplain of the river and have contributed to this massive wetland loss. Our team here at EDF works with partner organizations, including the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, as part of the Mississippi River Delta Resotration Coalition, which has a vision of reconnecting the Mississippi River to its delta to help protect people, wildlife and jobs in coastal Louisiana."


I must add that the evidence on whether this wetland restoration is a good idea or comes with serious problems is still out. I was surprised to hear that the scientific community is quite divided on what contaminated Mississippi water will do to the fragile wetlands to which water is going to be massively diverted.

We need to remember that the river is filled with nitrogen from nonpoint source pollution upriver. Farm states leach huge amounts of nitrogen fertilizer into the river which ends up in the Gulf of Mexico and creates the massive "dead zone" where oxygen is so scarce the fish (where there are any left) actually jump out of the water to catch some air! The river is also filled with pil from spills, and a host of other chemicals.

I would ask the folks diverting water from the Mighty river "Would you drink a glass of water from the river?" The answer would be no so why do they think all the wetlands life they are watering with the river waters would benefit from having that wash into their habitat?

This is a great topic for a research project.

Here is another good piece of information from Tulane University that you need to download and read. "The Use of Mississippi River Sediment for Restoration Projects in Louisiana" by
Russ J. Joffrion, P.E


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