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Spillways, diversions need to combine forces

Our View -   Jun 09, 2011

If there’s one thing we have learned with the opening of our two spillways to avert flooding this year, it is the benefit such openings can have to help build up the Louisiana coast.

Though they change the salinity of water in some of our wetlands, they do worlds of good in bringing much needed fresh water and river sediment to help build up those wetlands and preserve the Louisiana coast. The oysters and fish can be just as productive by relocating to other areas where they can thrive with more salinity.

It was disturbing to learn that our Davis Pond and Caernarvon Diversion Projects have been closed because water in their wetlands have become fresh enough with water from the rising river. Such projects should also help restore our land with the deposit of river sediments. Obviously we have to plan our public service projects to serve all of our needs to the greatest degree possible. We must look at our problems from all angles.

This year’s high water marks in the Mississippi River should cause us to design new facilities to be built in a way that they can prevent flooding and help rebuild our coast at the same time. This can be done by building more diversions that can be used every year for those purposes. After all, that is what the river used to do on its own before we had levees and diversion structures. The difference is the diversion structures provide the overflow of water where it spreads fresh water and deposits sediment to build up the coast but does not flood inhabited areas.

Perhaps this year’s high water mark in the river will help us finalize a new blueprint for keeping the Mighty Mississippi as one of our most productive natural structures.

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