Solutions for the Delta
For thousands of years, sediment carried by the Mississippi River sustained the delta and wetlands of coastal Louisiana. Today, levees and other man-made structures have brought these processes to a virtual halt.
The river’s powerful land-building force must be allowed to rebuild and restore the Mississippi River Delta. This reconnecting of the river to its delta requires a scientifically grounded package of federal and state policies and restoration projects.
Reconnecting the River to its Delta
Reintroducing freshwater and sediment to the coastal system and restoring natural water flows is critical to restoring the Mississippi River Delta. Whether through diversions like mid-Barataria and White Ditch, non-structural flood protection, barrier island restoration, oyster reef restoration or beneficial use of sediment dredged from the mouth of the Mississippi River, restoring the delta will take more than just moving dirt and planting marsh grasses.
Understanding how best to restore the world’s seventh largest delta is a work in progress. Monitoring the flow and hydrodynamics of the Atchafalaya River and Basin and calibrating land growth at the Wax Lake Delta show the possibilities of delta formation in this system. Tracking the hydrodynamics and sedimentation from existing diversions, such as Caernarvon and West Bay, and modeling the potential of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion will allow Louisiana and the Army Corps of Engineers to design the most effective restoration projects.
At the forefront of restoration, our Science and Engineering Special Team (SEST) is examining and answering some of the biggest questions about restoration of the delta and the sustainability of the lower river system.
Federal and State Policy
State and federal policies must be enacted to:
- Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for sustainable restoration of the Mississippi River Delta;
- Establish a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary governance structure capable of putting the plan in place;
- Provide the funding necessary to implement the plan before the delta crosses a threshold of collapse.