mississippi river

U.S. Drought Monitor

This week on the Coastal News Roundup: Texas wants to buy Louisiana’s water, coastal cities face credit downgrades, and new research on how when ice sheets melt, sea levels rise unevenly across the globe.

Coastal News Roundup: The Latest On The Tiny Bug Eating The Marsh

Sep 15, 2017
Travis Lux / WWNO

An invasive insect plaguing the coast has killed thousands of acres of tall marsh grass that bind our fragile wetlands together. Coastal researchers worry that the threat could increase the rate of coastal erosion and destroy fish habitat. Fishermen are worried.

LSU/LUMCON

The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where the oxygen is so low that fish and shrimp can’t live.

 

Scientists say this year’s dead zone is 8,776 square miles now -- about the size of New Jersey. Over the last five years it’s averaged 5,543 square miles.

 

It’s caused largely by agricultural runoff from the Midwest, and brought downstream by the Mississippi River. That runoff is high in nitrates, from fertilizer, which causes algae to bloom. When the algae dies, it sucks oxygen out of the water.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Louisiana’s coast is disappearing for a few reasons: natural sinking of the land, saltwater intrusion, and sea level rise.

 

Now there’s another threat: a little tiny bug from the other side of the ocean. It’s killing plants and destroying marshes at the mouth of the river, worrying the state and the shipping industry.

 

Tegan Wendland / WWNO

The Mississippi River remains high as floodwater makes its way south from the Midwest, and the Army Corps of Engineers is inspecting the levees daily for problems like leaks.

 

The Corps started inspecting the river about two weeks ago, as the water began to rise.

Doc Hawley first started working on riverboats in 1957 and stayed on board until his retirement a few years ago.
Historic New Orleans Collection / Historic New Orleans Collection

Every day in the French Quarter people are drawn – almost magnetically - to the riverboat calliope. There is an undeniable nostalgic sound to it and it may even remind you of childhood. But romance aside, this icon of Americana has its own history, which Captain Doc Hawley shared with the Historic New Orleans Collection and Nola Life Stories.

After opening up the Bonnet Carre Spillway upriver of New Orleans on Sunday the Army Corps of Engineers has decided it won’t need to open the Morganza Spillway. The Corps issued a statement Monday, saying that based on current forecasts it won’t be necessary in order to relieve the swollen Mississippi River.

The Army Corps of Engineers used small cranes to slowly begin opening up the Bonnet Carre Spillway.
Tegan Wendland / WWNO

The Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway Sunday morning in order to relieve the swollen Mississippi River and prevent flooding in New Orleans.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Colonel Rick Hansen, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District,  says it’s time to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway in order to divert floodwaters and protect New Orleans.
Tegan Wendland / WWNO

As the Mississippi and Red Rivers rise, officials are grappling with how to manage all of the water. The Army Corps of Engineers may open the Mississippi River’s Bonnet Carré Spillway this weekend.

New Orleans District Commander, Col. Rick Hansen, says it is time to open the spillway. Just west of the city, it diverts the Mississippi River to protect New Orleans.

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