14th Riversymposium, keynote presentation from Denise J.Reed (2011)


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"The Mississippi flood of 2011: opportunity for a new approach to management?" Denise J.Reed, Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of New Orleans.

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  • In 1874, after years of failed attempts at dredging, levee building and debate about constructing a canal, James Eads proposed building large Jetties along the outlet of the river.
  • But as impressive as the jetties were for the movement of goods in through the mouth of the river, even more dramatic was the change it encapsulated for the treatment of the River throughout the delta region. The 1879 creation of the Mississippi River Commission, with Eads as one of its most prominent members took on the huge roll of controlling and bending the entire purpose of the river.
  • 14th Riversymposium, keynote presentation from Denise J.Reed (2011)

    1. 1. The Mississippi Flood of 2011:Opportunity for a new approach to management? Denise J. ReedPontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences University of New Orleans
    2. 2. Managing the Mississippi River
    3. 3. Outline• Flooding in coastal Louisiana• The coastal context• Current Mississippi River management approaches• The flood of 2011• A new approach? 3
    4. 4. Coastal Louisiana New Orleans
    5. 5. New Orleans – the Crescent CityVulnerable from the North and South
    6. 6. Hurricane Katrina 2005….
    7. 7. New Orleans Flooding from the River - Impacts the CityBenefits the Coastal Ecosystem
    8. 8. …coastal Louisiana has undergone a net change in landarea of about -1,883 square miles (mi2) from 1932 to2010. This net change in land area amounts to adecrease of about 25 percent of the 1932 land area. …1985 to 2010 show a wetland loss rate of 16.57 mi2/year. Couvillion et al. (2011)
    9. 9. What is land loss?Land loss =interior marsh deterioration
    10. 10. Mississippi Delta Plain 7000 years of sediment deposition Land loss balanced by land gain 3000-4000 yrs old < 2000 years old
    11. 11. Projected Coastal Louisiana Trends: 1956-2050 Land Loss 1956-2000 Land Projected Land Loss 2000-2050 Water Land Gain 1956-2000 Projected Land Gain 2000-20501956 – 2000 1525 sq. mi. of coastal landscape lost average rate 35 sq.mi./yr. for 44 years2000 – 2050 Projected loss - another 513 square miles
    12. 12. What Changed?From natural delta building tomassive land loss
    13. 13. Early River Management Captain A. A. Humphreys Delta Report Lieutenant H. L. Abbot
    14. 14. The Great Flood of 1927• 246+ Deaths• 325,000 Refugees• 162,000 Homes Inundated• 16.6 Million Acres Flooded
    15. 15. 1934National Resources Planning Board“In the interests of national welfare theremust be maximum control of waterresources, from the desert trickle thatmight make an acre or two productive tothe raging flood waters of the Mississippi.” 18
    16. 16. River levees stop current sedimentload getting to coastal wetlandsBuilding of new land is severely restricted
    17. 17. 2011 Flood
    18. 18. “SHOULD DIVINE PROVIDENCE ever send a flood of the maximum predicted by meteorological and flood experts as a remote probability but not beyond the bounds of ultimate possibility, the floodways provided in the plan are still normally adequate for its passage without having its predicted heights exceed those of the strengthened levees.”Edgar Jadwin, Major General, Chief of Engineers, December 1, 1927 23
    19. 19. 24
    20. 20. 25
    21. 21. 26
    22. 22. Bonnet Carre Spillway - ~ 1 yr in 10Managing the Flood in Louisiana 27
    23. 23. Bonnet CarreAn effective flood relief valveNo land building….. 28
    24. 24. Flooded Areas 1927 Flood vs 2011 Flood1927 Flood = 16.8M acres2011 Flood = 6.35M acres 29
    25. 25. Flood of 2011• Operation of structures not seen in > a generation• Routing of floodwaters into lakes and bays• Effective management of water• Sediment management = dredging• Delta plain largely isolated from flood water and sediment
    26. 26. National Water Commission, 1973“federal water planning today is noworiented toward construction of waterresources projects, an orientation thatmade sense 50 years ago but that doesnot relate to today’s water problems” 31
    27. 27. Achieving Sustainability
    28. 28. Stop wasting sediment!
    29. 29. A New Approach toRiver Managementfor the 21st Century
    30. 30. Managing the Mississippi RiverIrrigation Industry Exports Markets Agriculture Flood Protection Energy security Oil and Gas Navigation Imports Nutrients Water supply
    31. 31. The Old Way…Water resources projects are selected onthe basis that …“the benefits to whomsoever they mayaccrue are in excess of the costs and thelives and social security of the people willbe otherwise affected” Congress of the USto Corps of Engineers, 1936 38
    32. 32. A New WayEconomy, SocietyAND Environment
    33. 33. Managing a Flood toMaximize Land Building? Wax Lake Delta 40
    34. 34. Managing the Lower Mississippi• An integrated approach to management is essential in the Lower Mississippi River.• The present system of levees, structures and navigation features was developed almost a century ago and now results in conflicts among potential uses of the river resource.• Realistic multi-use management approaches are urgently needed 41
    35. 35. A Vision for Lower Mississippi River ManagementManagement that coordinates and guides the use of the river resources to:• increase the reliability of marine transportation,• reduce the risk of flooding due to seasonal high water, and• provide for the distribution of sediment and water to sustain the coastal ecosystem. 42
    36. 36. Additional Benefits Such management supports• the economy of the region and the nation,• provides for a plentiful supply of clean water for municipalities and industries adjacent to the Lower River,• improves the health of the northern Gulf, and• affords world class recreational opportunities.
    37. 37. A New Approach toFlood Managementfor the 21st Century