Here’s a simple plan to save our coast

Letters to the Editor
August 29, 2007 at 1:31 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

To the editor:

This letter is in response to Allen Lottinger’s article about Louisiana’s deteriorating coast. He was one of the first writers to write about the problems caused by the Mississippi River levee system. I agree with the fact that “Building of levees along the Mississippi River was the main cause of the erosion of our coast...” How can we get the politicians to listen to simple suggestions about how to correct this problem?

We know that the fresh water diversion projects work. If anyone spends just a little time near the flowing waters of a diversion system, they can witness how well these projects work. However, politicians like Senator Landrieu stop projects like the Bonnet Carre’ project, because of a deal with the Mississippi Sound oyster producers. Her deal was supported by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. How come all of a sudden Louisiana’s coast line is less important than the Mississippi oysters? The Mississippi River flowed through Lake Pontchartrain for hundreds of years before people were harvesting oysters. It is natural for the Mississippi River to flow through Lake Pontchartrain. I would even believe that the lake was a fresh water lake at one time. Yet those who are supposed to protect our lake are the ones who are hurting it.

The Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion Project cost $120 million to build, but little water has flowed through this system for fear of too much fresh water in Lake Salvador. There were cypress trees on the south side of Lake Salvador at one time. Cypress trees don’t grow well in salt water; maybe Lake Salvador is supposed to be a fresh water lake also.

My suggestion to this problem is simple, maybe too simple for the politicians and bureaucrats to make money. My suggestion is to take advantage of the natural crevasses that run from the river to the Gulf Coast. These natural waterways were used by nature for years to bring fresh water and nutrients to our marsh lands. I propose installing small pumps and pipes over the levees and pump river water into these crevasses and let nature do the rest. These pumps do not have to be large or expensive. It’s amazing how many gallons per minute you can get out of a 2 h. p. pump with 2” pipe, pumping into a 2’ by 2’ ditch. A 2’ by 2’ ditch can pass thousands of gallons of nutrient rich water each year.

The idea is to use several small diversion ditches spread out from Baton Rouge to New Orleans versus one large multimillion dollar project. From Baton Rouge to New Orleans, the Mississippi River runs in a more easterly direction than a southerly direction. This would be more cost effective and work better than the large political freshwater diversion projects that the Corps has designed in the past. Many land owners would probably love to utilize these ditches, which are already running through their property, to be used as irrigation systems for farmers.

The local municipalities could be responsible for maintaining the ditches, which don’t have to be large. The local parishes cannot continue to wait for the state and federal governments to do anything. They must act immediately. I’m tired of all the millions of dollars spent on studies. It’s so simple, the river helps build the coast by spreading fresh water, nutrients and silt through the marshes. Less than 100 years ago we stopped this process with the Mississippi River levee system. Today, it’s improbable to remove the levees, but we can emulate these natural flows again with very little effort.

Passionate about Louisiana,

Edward Hymel III

21 Shadow Lane


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