Gov. John Bel Edwards joined yesterday officials from Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University (LSU), the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) to unveil the LSU Center for River Studies that will be dedicated to coastal restoration and river management.
The large-scale physical model of the lower Mississippi River is the centerpiece of the facility, which showcases Louisiana’s working delta, coastal program, and research dedicated to coastal restoration and river management.
“The primary focus of the Center is to utilize the Lower Mississippi River Physical Model – one of the largest of its kind in the world – to identify and hone solutions to protect and restore our coast,” said Michael Ellis, CPRA Executive Director.
According to Gov. Edwards, the center will also be used for outreach, engagement and advocacy. Its state-of-the-art 10,000 square foot exhibit area offers several distinct themes with illustrations and interactive features to help visualize and communicate the importance of the Mississippi River Delta, the ongoing coastal land-loss crisis, and CPRA’s comprehensive Coastal Master Plan restoration and risk reduction program.
The Lower Mississippi River Physical model is an educational tool like no other in America. The operations and maintenance of the model, as well as future visualization work, will be funded through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).
The model will flow water and sediment across the model’s 14,000 square mile section of Southeast Louisiana including Terrebonne, Barataria, Breton Sound, and Pontchartrain Basins, depicted on the map as an area from Donaldsonville to the Gulf of Mexico.
Using exact parameters of the river’s physical and dynamic properties, the model will produce a degree of accuracy never before achieved in lower-river physical modeling at this scale.
The primary river-model goals are to produce qualitative land building results associated with sediment diversions in the Lower River, and serve as a complementary planning tool to computer models currently utilized. Much of the land loss in coastal Southeast Louisiana is attributed to the marsh habitat being disconnected from the river by levees sealing off the Mississippi in the early 1930s. This new movable bed model is an expanded and improved version of a model used on the LSU campus 2002-2009.
The LSU Center for River Studies is the latest facility to open on the new Water Campus, a 27.6-acre development being funded through a partnership between the State of Louisiana, the City of Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.