St. Charles Herald-Guide

No delays needed in coastal restoration

Our View - March 21, 2007

Last week after this newspaper extolled on the need to quick start coastal restoration projects if we are to save south Louisiana, we learned that groups planning the restoration have different views on how it is to be done. Scientists have criticized the preliminary draft of the Coastal Restoration and Protection Authority as being confusing and misleading.

Some claim the plans for extensive levees across the wetlands such as the Morganza to the Gulf that include a stretch south of St. Charles Parish along the Intracoastal Canal could hasten erosion of the coast. Even levees with openings in them that would allow tidal flow through them at times would not save the coast, they say.

There is definitely a need for a unified plan that can be pursued quickly without many hurdles. And with so much dissention on the proposals at hand, the future looks dim on the future of coastal restoration.

We certainly need leadership on the issue that can bring us, for the most part, to one frame of thinking. And our proposal is this:

Forget about levees for the time being. They may protect a few houses here and there but they wonít save the coast.

Letís concentrate on rebuilding the coast. That is our biggest protection against hurricanes, not levees that can wash away.

Build up our barrier islands, our first line of defense in stopping storm surges from coming in. That would be done by pumping sand on them in great amounts.

Pump silt from the rivers into wetland areas that have washed away into open water during previous hurricanes. That will help stabilize their infrastructure. And divert water from the rivers into the wetlands to keep salt water intrusion out. Fresh water will keep the vegetation that holds it together healthy.

The final decision on just how our coast will be restored will be made by the federal government which will provide most of the money. But leadership from the state will have to guide them and make the Corps of Engineers and other agencies act quickly.

Two weeks ago, it was said that we have only 10 years to save the coast before it becomes an impossible project. Today it is less than 10 years.

The clock is ticking.