Mississippi River Delta Needs Diversions More Than Ever, Study Says

The future of the Mississippi River Delta will likely look drastically different than it does now, according to the Restore the Mississippi River Delta latest article.

As sea level rise increases, we need to be smart about where and how we build land along Louisiana’s coast. A viable future for coastal Louisiana means a smaller delta, and using sediment diversions to strategically build and maintain land can make that smaller delta more sustainable,” said Natalie Peyronnin, Director of Science Policy, Mississippi River Delta Restoration, Environmental Defense Fund.

A new study released recently in Science Advances evaluated the geologic history of the Mississippi River Delta to inform its future and the potential impacts from coastal restoration projects.

The findings echo those of the Changing Course design competition and the state’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan: we cannot rebuild the delta back to what it was historically, nor can we maintain the delta at its current footprint. But we can do something to avoid the worst-case land loss scenario and create a sustainable future for coastal Louisiana,” said Peyronnin.

“Looking at the geologic history of the delta cycle, it is clear that we must use the natural land-building power of the river to preserve coastal areas. Sediment diversions, structures that reconnect the river’s sediment to the coastal wetlands, are crucial to building a smaller, sustainable delta. Researchers working on the Science Advances study agree.”

The state and federal government announced recently they had shaved 22 months off the timeline for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, a cornerstone of the master plan.

Getting projects like Mid-Barataria on the ground sooner is crucial to preventing the worst-case land loss scenario and maintaining as much of the coast as possible. This study supports a growing realization that change is inevitable in coastal Louisiana, according to the the Restore the Mississippi River Delta article.