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.
Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 11:53 am
The Mississippi River has provided George Foster with a living all his life. Now, with the river dropping to historically low levels, it's threatening to take his business down with it.
Foster's office sits atop an empty barge on the river, just south of St. Louis. His building tilts at a 30-degree angle because the water is so low. Visitors may want to stick out their fingertips for balance walking down his narrow hallway.
University of New Orleans professor Norma Jean Mattei chairs the university's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She has studied flood-prone areas of the city, and knows the importance of the Mississippi River — for everything from flood protection to commerce and the environment.
Which is why President Barack Obama has nominated her to join the Mississippi River Commission.
An environmental group that’s been studying Gulf Coast wetlands for the past decade is shifting its attention north. The America’s Wetland Foundation is focusing on the source of delta construction: the Mississippi River. The new project is called The Big River Works.