In New Orleans, living with water is the foundation of our existence. With climate change impacting our daily lives, we are experiencing record-breaking Mississippi River flooding, increasingly intense and frequent rainfall events, and unprecedented hurricane seasons. We are also facing some of the highest rates of sea level rise in the world. Now is the time to innovate and adapt. We can continue to see water as our biggest threat, or we can use it as a major asset. Here in New Orleans, we are leading the way, finding innovative ways to live with water. We are proud of the progress made since Hurricane Katrina. Our delta city was built by the sand and mud of the Mississippi River. Though we’ve walled it off, the river is intricately linked to our geography, culture, and economy. The river will continue to be critical, especially to the sustainability of the coast that protects our city. In part, because we’ve walled off the river and its natural land-building process, we are losing our coast at a rate of one football field of wetlands every 100 minutes. This is not just an issue for our neighboring parishes; this is a dire issue for every parish in the region — from fishing camps on Grand Isle to bedroom communities of Baton Rouge.theadvocate.com
Fortunately the State had recognized the problem. We have given the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority the responsibility to determine the needs and solutions to our coast.
We should also all be thankful for the Mississippi River. We’ve leveed it off, but it’s still there. It’s still the Mighty Mississippi. Our best shot at maintaining and even rebuilding a coastal buffer to help sustain the future of New Orleans and our neighbors is to utilize the very tool that built the delta in the first place.
We are setting the stage for recognition of how we are devising solutions to solve our problems.
One of the most innovative projects in the Coastal Master Plan is the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, located south of New Orleans in Plaquemines Parish. Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion is the single largest ecosystem restoration project in U.S. history. It will build more land than any other restoration project in the world. This is the type of innovation and ingenuity we need to address the challenges that we face. Mid-Barataria will reconnect the river to its delta in a tightly controlled way restoring the natural wetland-building process and sustaining existing wetlands that are otherwise going to wash away.
This coastal buffer is needed by our communities to protect us from hurricanes. It also stimulates the economy by bringing jobs to our area.
Right now, we are in the midst of one of the most important public comment periods in the history of our coast. Comments are being accepted on the $2 billion Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project. This is the time to support innovation, ingenuity, and climate adaptation. This is the time to embrace living with water and to make it our great asset. It’s time to get involved and protect our coast and the future of our delta city.
Thank you Madam Mayor!