Did you know southern Louisiana is under threat of disappearing? This is no joke or magic trick; southern Louisiana is slowly sinking and many years from now some think it will be covered by water. That means a lot of people will lose their jobs, homes, and so much more. All due to a mother nature issue called coastal erosion but some often say our coastal erosion is caused by the disturbance of man. Coastal erosion in Louisiana is destroying our marshland and swamps and still only a very little amount of people even know about this issue.
Coastal erosion is caused when waves or hurricanes break down marshes, swamps, or any non-landlocked area; which then creates sediment and the current of the water washes it out to sea. This is not an overnight issue, this has been going on for hundreds of years.
One might not think it’s a lot, but according to the National Coastal and Marine Geology, “Louisiana’s 3 million acres of wetlands are lost at the rate of about 75 square kilometers annually” that is 18534 acres or better understood as approximately fourteen thousand normal size football fields a year.
Southern Louisiana has its many problems and coastal erosion is just one of them that will lead up to land covered by water, pointing fingers to who is at fault, and ways to fix this issue. Coastal erosion is defined as the loss or displacement of land along the coastline due to the action of waves, currents, tides, wind-driven water, waterborne ice, or other impacts of storms.
(cite) Coastal erosion is not only a threat in Louisiana but in many other states as well. Just in 2015, according to thirty-one geographic locations in southern Louisiana were removed from an official map after being washed away to sea.
This same source stated that since the 1930’s, a land area close to the size of Delaware has been lost. For example, if a map of Delacroix from before hurricane Katrina and after were placed on top of each other, you could see just how much marshlands eroded away. Over the years, the Mississippi River has carried sediment to Louisiana coastlines, building up marshes, wetlands and new land. For better reasons, men had to create canals and levees that constricted and confined the path of the river. Unfortunately, mother nature cannot replenish the loss of sediment at the rate of its displacement, but it also wouldn’t reach the delta because the levees. Come summer and spring, the rivers typically flood and distribute sediment across the delta. On top of that, here comes global warming and sea-level rise, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Southern Louisiana has the highest rate of relative sea level rise of any place in the country, and one of the highest rates anywhere on the planet,” which only makes the coastal erosion worse and causes higher waters and more eroding.
For many years, scientists and geologists have been pondering on how to stop this issue. Many think planting trees will help this. Tree and plant roots help hold the ground together preventing them from washing away. Another way to help our wetlands is to break down the levees and fill in the canals to reconnect the natural flow of the Mississippi River to the Louisiana swamps and marshes, Reconnecting the Mississippi River to its wetlands to help restore southeast Louisiana’s first line of defense against powerful storms and rising sea levels is a great idea and one that would help, but the downside is too large. The levees and canals are meant to save homes from flooding, drainage, water supply, etc. There are plenty of ways to make a start on improving our marshes like barrier island restoration, marsh creation, or even marsh bank protection. Larger barriers such as trees or anything of significant size will protect Louisiana’s marshes from hurricanes, storm surges, and wave erosion.
Even something so insignificant as slowing down the winds from these storms could make an immediate difference to the wetlands. To prevent further erosion, creating a barrier along the banks of the marshes by using sheets of metal and driving them into the waters. To replenish past erosion and decrease further erosion, creating this type of pumping system would add on to the marshes and give land to replant the vegetation. This would allow the wetlands of southern Louisiana to become and stay strong enough to create an effective vegetation system without disturbance. Now it is hard to plant anything in saltwater, thats why they use mangrove trees. Due to the fact that oil companies has a fault in this situation because of oil spills and leaks. These oil companies have been starting to invest in programs to help restore Louisiana’s coastline by planting thousands of black mangrove trees.
Mangrove’s dense root system will help hold the land together, allowing no further erosion. It’s one of many ideas that they are exploring in the Mississippi River Delta. If these issues are not acknowledged and resolved soon, boat launches and camps will shut down due to constantly having to rebuild. If it only gets worse people will be forced to move away and jobs will be lost. Families will have to relocate, and that is never a easy thing for kids to do. Another victim of this problem are the animals: rabbitt, hog, deer, and many other species of animals will be affected. Not only taking their home and land, but forcing the animals to move closer to human civilization will impact them tremendously.
Many people might wonder who is financially responsible for this damage. Damage caused by natural disasters is not at fault to any one human, however, according to an article written by Sara Sneath of The Times-Picayune, oil companies are being sued for the damage and loss of wetlands in southern Louisiana. (cite) There are oil rigs all over Louisiana waters drilling and pumping oil. These rigs are constructed by man, well man is not perfect and error is always available. There have been huge oil spills over the years, Louisiana Environment and Flood Control states that ‘[Between 300 and 700 barrels of oil per day have been spewing from a site 12 miles off the Louisiana coast since 2004, when an oil-production platform owned by Taylor Energy sank in a mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Many of the wells have not been capped, and federal officials estimate that the spill could continue through this century. With no fix in sight, the Taylor offshore spill is threatening to overtake BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster as the largest ever].”
This Issue is putting Oil in our marshes and swamps which is causing the vegetation of the land to die, which is the reasoning behind them being sued. In Louisiana Environment and Flood Control, these companies have tried to keep some of these oil leaks a secret, which is why they should be sued and pay for the damages they have put a hand into and the WBUR states that ”the state legislature approved a $50 billion, 50-year coastal restoration plan last week that is partially funded by settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill.” In my humble opinion, I think the problem has gotten out of hand and will be too far gone to fix before necessary actions will be put in place. Eventually, people will either be asked to move (for their safety) or worse, break off and become an island in the gulf. Not only this, but jobs will be lost as a result. There’s no stopping natural disasters, but there are ways to prevent some of the outcomes. Not all of it, but the majority of coastal erosion is preventable.