New levee type looks promising

June 12, 2009 at 1:23 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

A new type of levee for southeast Louisiana is being constructed along the beachfront at Grand Isle. It is called a Geotube (R) levee which will extend from the burrito levee recently built on the western end of the island to the eastern end.

The backbone of the levee consists of tubes filled with compacted sand measuring 30 feet in circumference and 200 feet long. They are connected for the 5.7 miles of the levee.

The tubes are filled by pumping water from the Gulf and mixing it with sand on the beach. The sand-water mixture is then pumped into the tubes which act like a de-watering mechanism as the water leaches through the tube material. The sand-filled tube then becomes very hard, just what is needed to ward off storm surges.

Geotubes can also be used for jetties and breakwaters in open water. They could become an effective weapon in Louisiana's fight against coastal erosion.

The tubes are manufactured by TenCate Geotubes (R), a Royal Dutch company. Sen. Mary Landrieu went to Holland just last week to learn some of the techniques used by the Dutch to protect and restore their low-lying country. Hopefully she will find ways of employing some of them to help our coast.

There are other methods we can employ to save and restore our coast. One of the most promising is the use of large pipes, some 30 or 40 miles long, to carry Mississippi River sediment to areas of our wetlands being washed into open water. When finished in one area, the pipelines can then be re-directed to other areas that need help. They actually build up land.

Of course, our river diversion projects, such as Davis Pond here in St. Charles Parish, also help by freshening up our wetlands so vegetation will grow there and help protect it. More such diversion projects are needed.

Louisiana has a long way to go in strengthening its coast and not much time left in which to do it. It has been given up to 10 years to get a lot more done than has been done in the last 50 years or else we will lose most of this valuable treasure.

Gov. Bobby Jindal earmarked coastal restoration projects as one of his major projects for the future. A lot of them are scheduled to get started within the year.

And this is no time to backtrack. We need to go full speed ahead.

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