Environment

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
7:45 am
Mon May 20, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — River Diversions

The Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion Structure in 1999 and 2003. The structure part of a project that is attempting to reverse land loss and ecosystem degradation in the marshlands.
Credit NASA Earth Observatory

It’s almost impossible to find anyone in coastal Louisiana opposed to the idea of “coastal restoration.” Storms like Katrina, Gustav and Isaac have shown everyone the value of the marshes and swamps that once stood between them and the Gulf.

But when “restore” means turning things back to the way they once were, problems can arise.

The best-known example of that is the conflict over using river diversions.

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
7:45 am
Fri May 17, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — The Master Plan

Construction of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier in Lake Borgne. The barrier is 1.8 miles long.
Credit Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

If you’ve been listening and reading along this week, by now you know the consensus among coastal experts is that New Orleans and southeast Louisiana are headed for an early grave before the end of the century.

Because of river levees and damage from oil and gas canals, the wetlands that once protected this city from the Gulf have been reduced by more than half. And now what’s left of this landmass is sinking, at the same time the Gulf is rising due to global warming.

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
7:30 am
Thu May 16, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — How We Got This Way: Rising Seas, Sinking Land

A street submerged by water in Venice, La. in 2010.
Credit Jason Saul / WWNO

The clang of tide gauges throughout parts of southeast Louisiana aren’t from a science fiction movie, though they may make residents feel like they’re caught in one.

Those sounds tell the stories of rising tides along the Gulf Coast and melting glaciers in the Arctic. And they tell how scientists believe those two events, taking place thousands of miles apart, are the reasons why the Gulf of Mexico is on pace to submerge most of southeast Louisiana by the end of the century — if nothing is done.

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
7:45 am
Wed May 15, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — How We Got This Way: Canal Dredging

Man-made canals in the Barataria Basin wetlands.
Dr. Terry McTigue NOAA

These days when fishing guide Ryan Lambert motors away from the boat launch in Buras, he’s fishing in the what locals call “the land of used-to-bes.”

As in, that used to be Yellow Cotton Bay, or Drake Bay, or English Bay… and dozens more. It’s all one big open body of water now because the marshes, cypress swamps and ridges that separated these water bodies for most of his life are gone.

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
7:45 am
Tue May 14, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — How We Got This Way: The Mississippi River

A plan of the city of New Orleans and the Mississippi delta, from 1759.
Thomas Jefferys Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library

Anyone flying into New Orleans on a clear day now looks down on a panorama of delicate marsh floating like green lace on the brown waters of the Mississippi delta. Those wetlands seem endless — stretching to the horizons.

But scientists tell us we’re really looking at the skeletal remains of a vast wetland ecosystem that presented huge challenges to European explorers back in the 16th century.

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The Louisiana Coast: Last Call
8:08 am
Mon May 13, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — The Shape We're In Now

If you enter New Orleans in a Google search you’ll get words and images that echo the city’s unofficial motto: laissez les bon temps rouler, let the good times roll.

Americans love to visit this place because, as noted TV producer David Simon has said, New Orleanians will always find a way to celebrate, even when they get bad news.

But there’s some bad news coming to bayou country that no one will be dancing to.

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Environment
4:09 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Where Does The Mississippi River Set Down Its Mud?

This image from spring 2001 shows the plume of sediment pouring from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.
Credit NASA

In a new story out in The Lens today, environmental reporter Bob Marshall delves into an ongoing study about Mississippi River sediment, and its ability to rebuild the coast. Government agencies and scientists have some new ideas about how much mud and sand the Mississippi River deposits along the Louisiana coast before it flows out to the Intercontinental Shelf.

Marshall tops his story by laying out some assumptions:

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Environment
2:53 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Mississippi River's Many 'Parents' Look To Unify

Mississippi River floodwaters in Vicksburg, Miss., in 2011.
Dave Martin AP

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 7:16 pm

Life on the Mississippi River is a roller coaster of highs and lows: record high floodwaters one year, a drought and near-record low water levels the next. And those are just two of the many problems faced by river stakeholders like barge operators, farmers and conservation groups.

Those stakeholders met recently in Chicago to discuss the Mississippi's most pressing needs, any common ground, and how to speak with a unified voice in advocating for the nation's largest river system.

So far, that hasn't been easy.

Critical, Crumbling Lifeline

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Green Minute
10:59 am
Fri April 26, 2013

Stop Water Waste With Tips That Save

Conserving water helps the two P's: Your planet and your pocket!

Christal White delivers this week's Green Minute on ways to prevent water waste.

I didn't expect that producing the Green Minute would be so environmentally enlightening, and not just through big facts, but simple things one can do to help the energy and conservation efforts… even for those of us who, up until this point haven't been all that conscious of these things on our own (not naming any names).

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Environment
1:00 am
Thu April 11, 2013

New Science Shows Mississippi River Water Could Kill Marshes, Not Grow Them

The centerpiece of Louisiana's Master Plan to stem coastal erosion is this: divert the Mississippi River to let it flow over the marsh. Sediment in the river is supposed to stick and build up the wetlands, keeping more Louisiana land above water as sea levels rise.

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