Sunday, October 21, 2012

A new plan for water traffic emerges

Day of the Dead decoration on the neutral ground by the Healing Center
Saturday, I attended the Anba Dlo Water Symposium: Infinite Blessings, Finite Resources at the Healing Center.

Anba Dlo in Kreyol (apparently the Haitian Creole language) means "from beneath the waters." The event planners stated: "Our city's long held paradigm has been to build walls and pump out every drop of water that falls.

Several presenters shared their perspectives on improved water management. Dr. Denise Reed, Ph.D., research professor at UNO, described a plan to shorten the outlet from the port of New Orleans to the Gulf by creating a canal that would go directly south. The reasons to do this are two-fold. Apparently, ships need to carry even heavier cargo into New Orleans to remain competitive. Thus, the channels have to be 50-feet deep not 45-feet. The 100-mile trip down the Mississippi to the Gulf makes dredging another 5 feet a big task - way bigger than is necessary to deepen ports in Gulfport, Miss., or Miami, which are right on the water. New Orleans loses the trade if it doesn't meet the requirements. That's pretty convincing.

Part two of Reed's argument is that building the shorter route would leave silt across Southeast Louisiana, creating more of a storm barrier than exists now. The areas around Grand Isle are unsustainable because the shelf drops right off the coast to almost a mile. So, getting the Army Corp to dig that channel deeper is a non-starter.

The problem is (always) getting Congress to appropriate the funds. I believe she said $50 million - a drop in the bucket - pardon the pun.

Louisiana is just not a national priority, however. And, as journalist Bob Marshall pointed out earlier that day, the country has Katrina fatigue. Americans are tired of hearing about Louisiana's problems and don't recognize the economic importance that the Mississippi holds to the entire United States.

I've presented the statistics in earlier posts. The Mississippi is the world's sixth largest river. Most of the central United States depends on the port in one way or another for imports and exports. Not to mention the seafood. Everyone should have a reason to care.

Marshall said, tell your friends. Do a grassroots thing. I sincerely doubt that will work, but I am telling you now. Call your representative in Congress.

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