The is good news that reputable scientists met in New Orleans this week to come up with ideas on how to best spend the $1.2 billion in the Lousiana coastal restoration program planned by the state and federal governments. This is the amount of money the Bush Administration wants to provide to begin serious restoration efforts in the next 10 years. A more comprehensive plan would come later which would take some 30 years and billions of dollars more to complete.
One of the ideas promoted was abandonment of the bird-foot delta of the Mississippi River by creation of new wetlands to the east and west. This would be done by pumping sediment from the river for many miles, to make the coast more solid. It would include the Barataria Bay area south of St. Charles Parish. Such pipelines would also be used to import sand from offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
By building up the coast to stop continued erosion, we will also be helping to solve another problem. Each mile of wetlands effectively reduces tidal surges during storms. This is the most effective protection we can provide against hurricanes.
Louisiana originally wanted the federal government to get started on the comprehensive plan that would have taken many years to build. President Bush said no, that we should do it incrementally so that we can assess the success of the projects as we go along before designing the comprehensive plan.
So be it. But it is time to get started.
Weíre losing football fields of wetlands every hour. The longer we wait, the more difficult the job will be and the more it will cost.