It is unfortunate, because of the various “marketing” campaigns of the state and some environmental groups promoting so-called “sediment” diversions, that the general public thinks that if you re-connect the Mississippi River to the wetlands that land will “pop up”.
The state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is planning to build two so-called “sediment” diversions on each side of the river. The Mid Breton and Mid Barataria Sediment Diversions. Each at a capacity of 75,000 cfs.
Yes, the Mississippi River created the Delta that we live on in New Orleans, but that took 3,000 years. And, THIS is not the same river that created the Delta. THIS river has less than 20% of the sediment load it had in the 1800s. A recent sampling of sediment loads in the proposed location of the Mid Breton Sediment diversion showed 700 mg of sediment per Litre of water.
But, what it does have, is 10 times more pollutants, chemicals, fertilizers, and Nitrates than it had back then. In 2010, a watchdog group, Environment Missouri reported that over 12.7 million pounds of toxic chemicals were dumped into the river, including, Benzene, Mercury, and even Arsenic. The proof is in the Dead Zone created in the Gulf every year, of which, this year’s will be an all-time record.
Recent events have shown what impacts large amounts of river water diverted into our estuaries will do to our Marine Life and Seafood. We all recognize the necessity of opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway, but the collateral damage it has caused is an indicator of what proposed diversions will do. Over 167 dead dolphins, over 30 just in St. Bernard waters. Toxic algae blooms closing beaches, health warnings, and devastation to our seafood resources. Oysters, showing 100% mortality, Shrimp landings down by over 80%, Blue Crab production down by 65%, Black Drum landings down by 45%. Charter fishing and tourism also taking a big hit.
While the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway is necessary to prevent flooding of New Orleans, it has been open 4 times in the last 5 years, and historically twice this year. This last time, the average flow was 148,000 cubic ft. per second. In contrast, the proposed “sediment” diversions will be each 75,000 cfs, on both sides of the river, totaling 150,000 cfs, but, will be operated all year long, EVERY YEAR! Their impacts will be just as serious, if not worse than this year’s fisheries catastrophe which prompted Gov. Edwards to proclaim a disaster event.
While diverting river water from the Bonnet Carre is a necessity, the proposed “sediment” diversions are no more than a $2 billion experiment to build land. As shown by these present events, their effects on our estuaries will be devastating and long-lasting. We have to ask ourselves: Is what we are going to give up worth what little we are going to get?
Re-connect the River?