BATON ROUGE, La. (July 19, 2017) – In case you missed it, The Advocate ran an "Our Views" piece about The Water Institute of the Gulf, the recently announced Memorandum of Understanding signed with Deltares, and the need for "first-class research to underlie government action to protect the coast."
From The Advocate:
The Mississippi River was called the father of waters. It is certainly the ancestor of Louisiana, depositing over the centuries the sediments that formed the river’s delta where our state now stands.
But what nature has given, nature can take away, because the channelization of the great river for flood control over the last century or so is now contributing to subsidence in soils. Combine that with rising sea levels in an era of long-term climate change, and Louisiana is in deep water ecologically.
If these are gigantic challenges, there are also opportunities for knowledge of the river and the Gulf of Mexico ecology, and perhaps even profit from a better understanding of the earth’s changing profile.
That is why we are encouraged by the new partnership between the scientists of the Water Institute of the Gulf and Deltares, the water researchers of the Netherlands.
When Native Americans were naming our great river the Father of Waters, the people of the Low Countries were building dikes and reclaiming land from marshes and sea. Over time, Deltares became the world’s leading institution in water management; its scientists consulted here, particularly in the wake of the devastation of the greater New Orleans region after hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
The Dutch institute’s work with the new Baton Rouge-based Water Institute has been in place since 2011, but the broader partnership will involve more work over coastal protection and restoration issues.
Gov. John Bel Edwards attended the announcement. This is welcome official recognition of the need for first-class research to underlie government action to protect the coast.
As the work on the Mississippi continues, river deltas across the world may benefit — and perhaps even pay for — consultation from our experts about their problems.
The Water Institute was a project of the forward-thinking leadership of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and it is based at a new center on the riverfront in the capital city’s downtown. But its work is across the state, and its funding contributes to grants to researchers in New Orleans, Lafayette, and elsewhere in Louisiana to better understand coastal issues. LSU, Tulane University, University of Louisiana institutions — all are part of the intellectual foundation of Louisiana’s response to climate change. Working closely together is vital.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu recently met with the editorial board of The Advocate and described rising sea levels as an "existential threat" to the future of his city. Profoundly true, and erosion of the state’s alluvial soils is also a significant threat to American commerce and energy production.
With the mobilization of world-class scientists from Louisiana institutions and international partners like Deltares, we are nevertheless not sure that every community in our coastal zone can be protected. The costs will be enormous. But the project is hardly conceivable without a world-class knowledge base.
The full report is here.