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The disappearing delta

Last week, we went to New Orleans for a look at how faulty levees contributed to the fatal flooding during Hurricane Katrina. And while the importance of the levee system can’t be overstated, New Orleans has also had a natural buffer against hurricanes: the wetlands of Louisiana that stretch for hundreds of miles along the coast.

But even before the BP spill, those wetlands were in serious trouble. In the time it takes you to watch this broadcast, roughly an acre of those wetlands will sink into the Gulf of Mexico.

This year, President Obama became the first president to include funding for Gulf coast restoration in his budget. But the money allocated may be too little. To give you a sense of the scale of the problem, here is an excerpt from a segment called “The Disappearing Delta,” reported by our former colleagues at “NOW with Bill Moyers.”

“The Disappearing Delta” was produced even before the wetlands damage caused by Katrina. It was reported by National Public Radio’s Daniel Zwerdling.

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  • Marbewick

    for over a decade, local scientists have been developing plans to restore the deltas. It would be good to report on these plans….

  • rdro

    Maybe the reality is that New Orleans might not need to grow back to it’s original size and the Delta areas should be allowed to be restored. Let the Mississippi run free to rebuild the coast land which will then act as a natural barrier against storms. I would think someone should be looking at all the money and manpower spent to try to tame the river and realize it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature ;-) Just because it’s what has been doesn’t mean it necessarily needs to be

  • Daniel

    Just another example of the human race being selfish. Manipulating the environment to do what we think makes life easier for us. I live close to the coast in Massachusetts, and if the water flooded here every year I wouldn’t enlist people to build a levy, I would move farther inland. I guess back then when the majority of commerce and trade took place on water it made sense…now, not so much. Pack your bags and find another place to live. You can’t tame nature.

  • RPL

    The flow of the Delta must be managed better!
    To stop sending silt into the Gulf, while providing river commerce & allowing the silt retention by salt marshes to occur as it has for millennium.
    There is cheap technology that will allow for improving on the growth rates of Salt Marshes, Oyster Beds & even Sea Grasses. It is called Biorock. The same methods are used to improve the reefs in the Indo-Pacific. This system can be placed on the edges of oil damaged marshes, stimulating a faster recovery rate for the next storms or event.
    Trouble is that bureaucracy & politics will get in the way.