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Closing MR-GO would be cost-effective

Our View -   Apr 27, 2006

We keep reading that it is not cost-effective to completely close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet - - MR-GO as it is better known - - which has been blamed for much of the erosion of Southeast Louisianaís wetlands.

Filling it in would be too expensive, they say. It would be a better solution to reduce its depth to 12 to 28 feet instead of its present 36-foot depth.

We have been spending some $36 million a year to maintain that 36-foot depth. Without that dredging, it would automatically fill in to a much lesser depth.

When we consider cost-effectiveness, we have to consider the cost of maintaining that canal which makes it necessary to build higher and more expensive levees to protect populated areas when a storm surge invades.

MR-GO was dredged to a width of 650 feet back in 1958. Now, its width is 2,000 feet in some areas.

We have lost land right and left because of its presence in St. Bernard Parish. Is that cost-effective?

The Mississippi River is filled with silt that we used to dredge away to help navigation and deposit over the continental shelf out in the Gulf of Mexico. That silt could have helped save the coast of Louisiana but we threw it away. Was that cost-effective?

Itís time to take action in protecting our coast. We need to pump that silt through temporary pipelines to areas that need it, including the MR-GO. We need to do what the Mississippi River used to do naturally when it overflowed each spring and built up our wetlands with that silt. We need to quit talking about it and act on it.

By doing that, we will relieve ourselves of having to build expensive levee systems in every little corner of our coast. Building up our wetlands with Mississippi River silt will be the most cost-effective thing we can do.

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