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Desperate Measure Yields Insights for Delta Restoration

In late spring 2011, one of the largest pulses of water in recorded history traveled down the Mississippi River, threatening the ports, industries, farms and towns of the river’s lower reaches, including New Orleans. To avert disaster, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway and diverted from 10 to 20 percent of the total river flood discharge into Lake Ponchartrain. Jeffrey Nittrouer, a National Science Foundation post-doctoral researcher at the University of Illinois, studied the impacts of the diversion shortly after the floodwaters subsided. Surprisingly, he found that 31-46% of the total sand load carried by the river during the 6 weeks the spillway was open was carried through the spillway. The location of the spillway was not intentionally chosen for delta restoration. But Nittrouer determined its land building power came from the … Read entire article »

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