New Orleans, La. – Authority Chairman Garret Graves said a critical step to slow the disappearance of wetlands is to use Mississippi River sediment to rebuild land. Some is used now, and the Corps of Engineers says it has built 12-thousand acres over 20 years. But Graves said recently at a meeting in the Lower Ninth Ward that wetlands are disappearing faster than experts had predicted.
The Corps has argued that by law, it must dispose of sediment from navigation channels in the cheapest way. The state wants to use river sediment to restore wetlands, instead of having much of it dumped in the Gulf. At a coastal authority meeting this week in New Orleans, Graves said that whatever obstacles remain, they must be cleared. The authority has asked the U.S. Commerce Department to mediate a solution.