Monday, April 06, 2009

Diversions, not as fun as it sounds!

Listen | Snippet of distinguished individuals speaking at the recent 3 day symposium titled “Mississippi Freshwater Diversion Summit” which was designed to be a serious discourse on rebuilding Louisiana’s coast using Diversions.

But, what is a Diversion? Well, it is when you take water from the Mississippi River and spill it (or divert it) over land to build the land up. Otherwise, you lose that land to the
Gulf of Mexico. The Mississippi used to do this naturally but levees prevent this from happening now. Choosing where to divert the water, how much water to divert, and when to divert it have all been insurmountable problems going back decades and has paralyzed the process. There are many stakeholders and each one seems to have veto power over the process.

The Army Corps of Engineers hosted the symposium bringing together for the first time all the competing interests from the state, federal agencies, the environmental community, landowner representatives, navigation and port authorities, levee boards, scientists, engineers, lawyers, fishermen, you name it. They were there. It was standing room only.

We all sat through many presentations on Diversions and I gathered that pretty much everyone agrees that Diversions are a great idea. So, why aren't they happening? To find out, listen to these amazing speakers talk about how to solve the gridlock from their unique perspectives.

Listen | New Orleans City Council President Jackie Clarkson speaking to the group and I was lucky to catch up with her just after her presentation for a quick interview.

Listen | Len Bahr, the brains behind, a blog he started after retiring from his position with the State as resident expert on all things coastal. Here him talk about his surprise to be so positive about the summit and the importance of addressing nutrient pollution in the river.

Listen | Matt Rota, Director of Water Resources for the Gulf Restoration Network asks for some changes to come out of this meeting and recommends making a timeline.

Listen | Dr. Denise Reed, professor at University of New Orleans, and I talk about what she thinks about the summit and the best solution to fix our coastal problems.

Listen | Pam Dasheil with the Lower 9th ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development and I talked about how the rebuilding efforts in the 9 were progressing and her thoughts on river diversions.

Listen | Carlton Dufrochou, Executive Director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation is in rare form here as he makes a plea for South Louisiana.

Listen | Earl Melancon, professor of Biology at Nicholls State University, talks about how to pronounce his name and assures us that oysters and river diversions can co-exist.

Listen | John Barry from the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority eloquently explains the politics behind the decision making process.

Listen | Mike Benge, with Delacroix Corporation was at the Summit to talk about the impacts that the Caernarvon Diversion has had on large landowners.

Listen | John Day, LSU Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences

As for me, I just hope we can start moving some dirt. Hurricane season is fast approaching!


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