Thursday, May 13, 2010

Louisiana Using Mississippi River Diversions to Push Oil Away from Coastal Wetlands

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans is reporting on a creative effort by the State of Louisiana to pump flowing water from the Mississippi River through flood-diversion channels into the coastal wetlands, in the hope of pushing the oil slick back into the Gulf. Water is flowing out of seven diversions and a navigation lock at a combined rate of 29,550 cubic feet per second. Most of the article follows:

The state has opened gates at the Bayou Lamoque freshwater diversion in Plaquemines Parish to use Mississippi River water to help protect the parish's fragile network of wetlands.

The opening will send around 7,500 cubic feet per second of river water into wetlands adjacent to Black Bay and Breton Sound, the state Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said.

The hope is that the river water will help push any oil from the Gulf oil spill away from the coastal wetlands.

"The potential effects of this oil spill could last for decades, so we are using every means at our disposal to try to lessen the devastation the oil could inflict on our wetlands," Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Department Secretary Robert Barham said.

Garret Graves, chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said the Lamoque diversion joins several others already pressed into service.

"We have been using diversions, siphons and locks on both the east and west side for more than 10 days to try and push the oil away from our coastal wetlands. Louisiana's coastal wetlands are a maze of marshy islands, grass beds, bayous, ponds and lakes. It will be nearly impossible for us to clean the oil out of these areas for years if it gets in there," Graves said.

The state said seven diversions and siphons and one navigation lock are now in use to send river water into the coastal wetlands. The total measurable flow from these diversions is 29,550 cubic feet per second.

No comments: