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Wed Jul 27, 2022, 12:05 PM

The Controversial Plan to Unleash the Mississippi River

The creation story told by the Chitimacha people in Louisiana describes the world in its earliest days as a wide expanse of water. Then the Great Creator instructed crawfish to dive down and bring up a bit of mud. Geologists tell a similar tale, though their sculptor is the Mississippi River: For thousands of years, it dumped soils stolen off the continent into the Gulf of Mexico. Thus the river formed its delta, a vast and muddy and ever-changing landscape where the water once forked into many paths to the sea.

These days, though, the river is largely restricted to one channel. Imprisoned within artificial levees, it’s no longer able to deposit its mud according to hydrological whim; instead, the river spits its sediment into the abyss of the deep sea. The consequences are grim: The existing mudscape is sinking. The ocean is rising. Over the past nine decades, more than 5,000 square kilometers of delta land in Louisiana has disappeared.

Few places are going faster than Plaquemines Parish, which encompasses the muddy land along the river’s final 100 or so kilometers, where New Orleans’ exurbs give way to a smattering of rural communities. (A parish is the local equivalent of a county, a remnant of Louisiana’s French colonial history.) One morning last summer, as we weave in his skiff through the parish’s marshland, Richie Blink tells me that the federal government has recently deleted 30-odd names from local nautical maps. Fleur Pond, Dry Cypress Bayou, Tom Loor Pass, Skipjack Bay: All have become undifferentiated, unlabeled expanses of open ocean.

Now, the state government wants to open a gap in the levee to divert some of the river’s muddy water back into the marshes, allowing the river to resume its old task of construction. Work on the gap could begin in early 2023, assuming that the US Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency that oversees waterway infrastructure, grants its official approval later this year. The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion—which is named for Barataria Bay, where the released river water will build a new “subdelta”—has been under discussion for years, but now, on the eve of destruction, it’s come under a firestorm of criticism from shrimpers worried about their livelihood; homeowners concerned about flooding; and environmentalists dismayed at the potential loss of bottlenose dolphins, a federally protected species. The diversion is intended to build new marshland, but it’s sometimes depicted as the latest assault on the region’s rural communities—which, according to critics, are about to be sacrificed again for the sake of nearby urban New Orleans.

https://www.wired.com/story/the-controversial-plan-to-unleash-the-mississippi-river/

Long, fascinating, and totally worth the read

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Reply The Controversial Plan to Unleash the Mississippi River (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Jul 27 OP
Tanuki Jul 27 #1
luvs2sing Jul 27 #2

Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Wed Jul 27, 2022, 12:07 PM

1. Louisiana 1927

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Wed Jul 27, 2022, 12:35 PM

2. Read Rising Tide by John M. Barry..

about the 1927 flood. I’m about halfway through it, and it’s a fascinating read, both because of the subject, but it also inadvertently lays out how similar the 1920s are to the 2020s in terms of social and political unrest.

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