Is it really too late to save our coast?


July 13, 2009 at 9:03 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

We’ve spent a lot of time emphasizing that if we don’t get major work underway to save the Louisiana coast within the next 10 years, it will be too late. It will all disappear into the Gulf of Mexico.

Now we have been given a different picture of it. It is already too late.

Two LSU geologists have concluded that such is the case in a scientific paper published last week. The state will lose some 4,000 to 5,000 square miles of coast by the year 2100, which would be like all of the state of Connecticut.

Why did they have to tell us that? We know it’s serious but there is always some hope. And besides, 2100 gives us some time to reverse the tide.

Maybe it will perk us up to decide what is worth saving the most and direct our efforts in those directions. In that case, the information will be beneficial.

But to say it is impossible to pump enough sediment into the marshes to prevent ongoing catastrophic loss makes us feel weak and impotent in producing what we need to help save our coast. They say in the paper that the reason why we can’t do it is because the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers now carry only half the sediment they did a century ago.

We can pump sand from offshore to build up our barrier islands that will help stabilize our coast. We can divert more fresh water to promote vegetation growth in our wetlands that will deteriorate and add to our soil base. We can dam up canals that are allowing salt water to intrude into our wetlands and kill what vegetation we already have.

By keeping the salt water out and adding water from the rivers, we can build up healthy fresh water wetlands that will help protect us from storms and preserve our estuaries that produce more commercial and sport fish than almost all of the other states combined.

Though our land base may be smaller, we can still have a healthy coast.

The paper predicts that water levels will rise some three feet by the year 2100. If so, we will have to work to have land high enough for our coast to survive, though it may have more water in the middle of it.

And hopefully it will make us work that much harder to get the job done.




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