Even Mississippi Sediment Won't Save Louisiana Coast

"Even under best-case scenarios of building massive engineering projects to restore Louisiana's dying coastline, the Mississippi River cannot possibly feed enough sediment into the marshes to prevent ongoing catastrophic land loss, two Louisiana State University geologists conclude in a scientific paper being published today.

The result: The state will lose another 4,054 to 5,212 square miles of coastline by 2100, an area roughly the size of Connecticut.

The reason: The Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers today carry only half the sediment they did a century ago -- between 400 million and 500 million tons a year then, compared with just 205 million tons today. The rest is now captured by more than 40,000 dams and reservoirs that have been built on rivers and streams that flow into the main channels. "

Mark Schleifstein reports for the New Orleans Times-Picayune June 29, 2009.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009