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Infrastructure: How Humans Sank New Orleans

Analysis of how well-intended engineering and construction accidentally sank half the Big Easy below the level of the sea.

February 09, 2018
Study says engineering and construction accidentally sank half of New Orleans

Louisiana’s coast has eroded by over 2,000 square miles since the 1930s, mostly due to leveeing of the Mississippi River and the excavation of oil, gas, and navigation canals—not to mention rising sea levels and intruding saltwater.

Slowing that loss requires tapping into the very Mississippi River, diverting its freshwater and siphoning its sediment load onto the coastal plain, pushing back intruding saltwater and shoring up wetlands at a pace faster than the sea is rising.

A federally backed state plan by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is now complete and approved, and some projects are underway.

The cost to fix it? At least $50 billion and possibly double that.

Read Richard Campanella's article How Humans Sank New Orleans in The Atlantic here.

image: US Army Corps of Engineers

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