Flood Mitigation and Risk: For every benefit there is a cost. Free lunches are only available in Oz

I’ve been holding onto a news story that I know will be of interest to our good friend Editilla over at the Ladder that I hope will set the tone for some thoughtful discussion on the wisdom of filling in marshes and then building levees to protect the resulting development. We’ve discussed flood mitigation in depth here on Slabbed and we’re fans of it. What we’re not fans of is filling in wetlands and building levees and the reason is simple, the water has to go someplace and in this case it is the non-marshy, once high and dry areas of the Mississippi Gulf Coast that take the hit.

Predictably the Army Corps of Engineers mislead local officials, this time assuring local leaders such as Hancock County Board of Supervisor president Rocky Pullman the levee construction related to Lake Pontchartrain that is contained in the Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan would not impact the Mississippi coast when their own study painted a much different picture. Let’s visit with a recent AP story run in the Clarion Ledger to get the details:

Hancock County officials have told the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that a new levee system planned to protect eastern Louisiana from future hurricanes will likely increase flooding in parts of coastal Mississippi.

The Hancock County board of supervisors met with Corps officials last week to talk about the corps’ Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan, which includes two large floodgates, or weirs, and a line of levees stretching from New Orleans East up the Pearl River…….

Local officials had been assured in March (by USACE) that none of the current construction would adversely affect South Mississippi.

Pullman told the newspaper the plan the corps now proposes would mean that once water gets trapped in the levee system, “it is going to go to the path of least resistance, which is us, only 19 miles away.”

And as detailed Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan the Army Corps acknowledges land that was once high and dry in Mississippi will pay the price for allowing unwise risky development in the Louisiana marshes:

“It was determined that the LACRP ‘weir’ alignment and high/level Slidell levee alignment would impact Hancock County through increased flooding.”

It stands to reason it would, though I do not agree that closing MRGO is in any way responsible for flooding problems in Hancock County. Creating new marshlands in it’s place along with restoring the marshlands in St Bernard parish that have been lost will do more over the long term to decrease coastal flooding in both metro New Orleans and the Mississippi coast than building miles of new levees will ever accomplish as we circle back to the AP story:

“The purpose of this plan is to keep water from storing in Lake Pontchartrain,” corps official David Jenkins told supervisors.

The St. Tammany Parish Council recently endorsed building the levees and weirs.

Currently, the corps is building a 24-to-26 foot barrier to seal off part of Lake Pontchartrain. Also being constructed are two 150-feet-wide gates and a 56-foot-wide gate to seal off the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet.

Pullman contends closing off the MRGO, combined with the existing New Orleans levee system, would act as a western wall for a northeastern tracking storm and the proposed construction in St. Tammany Parish would put more water in Hancock County.

Supervisors said several private levees under construction already had an effect on South Mississippi, creating flooding from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike which made landfall hundreds of miles from Mississippi.

“Before Katrina, we did not have water in Pearlington for 100 years,” Pullman said. “Last year, we had it twice and the storms did not even hit here.”

Pullman said even if the corps’ proposal resulted in one or two feet of storm surge, it “could be the difference in someone getting water in their house and our communities being flooded.”

Dr Ivor Van Heerden is on record saying as much about the Mississippi River levees causing surge increases on the Mississippi coast with Katrina. Those levees are also responsible for the deterioration of the coastal marshes that once provided a very important natural storm buffer between New Orleans and the Gulf.

Will the Louisiana Coastal Restoration Plan be fully implemented complete with new levees in St Tammany? Gene Taylor doesn’t seem to think so as we continue with the AP report:

U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., said congressional leaders are taking a hard look at the plan.

Taylor said the enormous costs of the potential project coupled with the potential effects on Mississippi make it unlikely it will ever be funded.

“The further we get away from Katrina, the harder it is going to be to fund these types of things,” he said.

Unlike the Louisiana plan, the Mississippi Coastal Restoration Project has already been sent to Congress, Taylor said. The Mississippi plan includes island and ecosystem restoration and a voluntary buy-out plan.

Taylor said strengthening the islands and wetlands is a better way to protect the coast.

“What the barriers do is break the waves and the energy spills into the island or marsh,” he said. “The centerpiece of our plan is restoring Ship Island.”

The differences in how Mississippi and Louisiana are approaching these very complex problems is most telling. It would help if the US Army Corp of Engineers could address the ugly truths of what they are doing before destroying the environment with the constriction of yet more levees protecting “land” that should have never been developed to begin with. If anyone with USACE cares to comment on this post we’d love to hear from you.

Tear down the Wall….


19 thoughts on “Flood Mitigation and Risk: For every benefit there is a cost. Free lunches are only available in Oz”

  1. It would seem that St Tammany is home to more than just Klan Trash Recruiting Camps. They are all afriter over the Truck/Borrow work that is slated there for the Levees along the lake in New Orleans. Indeed Editilla done got wrapped up in a multi-lingual frappe wit’one of’em… but I think that particular one may be COPPPR (Corps OPP Public Relations). I hunt them like the Town Snake Doctor.

    Suffice to say, the gist of this latest Corps Buzz Build is to frame the story to one of “Jobs” and finally “getting the Job down” and all that High Speed Disaster Capitalism.
    This will play into the mitigation argument in a number of ways, but chiefly to influence constituency.
    In other words, Y’all jus’gonna have to suck it up because this as Also About Jobs! This is not an argument for today, but it will be tomorrow after the mitigation well runs dry.

    This is why the COPPPR has been pushing/pulling the press and public information regarding the Actual Boots On The Ground. Now, with bazzillions of tons of shit flowing downstream, we don’t have time for saner critique.
    Really, Editilla hates to get all cynical but…
    My hat is off to them. This operation has been brilliantly executed to keep everyone busy until the Contracts Start to Roll. Now we Rock. It is hard.
    Sisyphus was not entirely correct you know, but Judge Duval hit the nail on the cross…. and Tom Waits for no one: “Even Jesus wanted a little mo’time, walkin’Spanish down the Hall.”

  2. That actually was pretty funny editilla. Exactly what the corps has planned.

    We are all in it together kid. No plan should include flooding out somebody else.

    I now know how the lower 9th ward felt when they flooded. We are expendable. We don’t matter. The people across the canal blew our side out so they wouldn’t flood. Bullshit. This is a reason to fillabuster the entire project till we are safe.

    It is not like these morons have not flooded out entire cities as big as New Olreans because they don’t look at the impact of their actions on the surrounding areas?

  3. Hey! Wha’happen???
    This post is no longer on the slabbed front page for today???
    Hrmph! While I usually do a general slabbed.wordpress.com, I was still able to re-link to it specific on the Ladder…AHA!

    Now I do love nowdy posts –which is why I had had a General Link, as usual on this Camino Real, to the whole slabberwaki, but then this post DISAPPEARED –after my pithy raise and reference to even pithier commentary bitch’slappin over at the T-P…
    Me thinks, I could have another beer and maybe it will come back Often that works with these computer machines… But Nooooo.
    Still Life in the “Recents” column but no live WIRE.
    Well so?

    Yer Back! Ok, well, ahem… errrrahhh…
    Never Mind…
    Back to the Mitigation Smitigation…
    what you have described is a worthy counter tactic to Governor Babar investing so heavily on making MS the century’s next Port of New Orleans.
    This way, see, we can bunt the ‘canes over onto all y’alls new Recovery Funded Port Infrastructure sitting there all vulnerable on the coast, while Our Port is set safe behind a wall of restored wetlands and miles and miles Pikes topped with Corps Engineers to scare away even the beadiest of Eyes.

  5. Editilla Zappa eh? You’re my bro far more than you know. You need to get Steve to send you the text message from yesterday. I pushed the pound key myself.

    Joe’s Garage? Sheik yerbouti? My copy survived Katrina! Dedicated to Jimbo the Clown and David Jenkins…



  6. Oh Well, whodda t’ought da’Central Scccccrrruuutinizer had visited upon the slabbed such ernstwhile coding!
    I mean, I was trying to be NICE by referencing the logo above the gates of the labor camps –but this St Tammanite just didn’t get the joke, eh? Sooooo all I could think of at that point was Magical Pigs, and those days when we had heroes.
    Ah those were the days my friend… Zappa, of all people, holding by the scruff of his collar a frothing John Denver testifying in Congressional Committee over Rock Lyrics with a woman named, get this, yer’gonna love it…TIPPER GORE.
    John “Country Roads” Mfkn Denver! Livid! Rabid!
    And Frank being overheard saying, “Now, John it’s alright. John, we live in a Democracy here. Be nice to the nice congress peoples.” or some’ting to that effect. Really.
    I do remember the LP at about that time too though, dbl album actually, Acts I, II,& III.
    Life seemed safer somehow back then, with vinyl.
    But more than anything I remember going, “WTF”???
    I remember it as one of those Awe Things.
    Now, my friend Jimbo has ensconced his’sef in the basement of MS State Government. I don’t know just how small this world can get ya’know?

  7. ewe sporry for the weird jump but hey fork’it
    yes that is his daddy’s SG that young Zappa is playing.
    Yes, imagine a dusty delta gravel road
    a bridge over a bogue
    beer drinking high school football players
    chanting ERr fuckin’A
    peaches and regalia
    ah… if mosquitoes could talk

  8. Steve, R.O.C.K. in’da U.S.A.!
    Sorry to see we are not alone, eh? One of these days we should have a big gathering in So MS, like those festivals where they dress up in funny clothes and hit each other with sticks? Or that hippie Rainbow Gathering… we could call it the Claim’bow Gathering! (in the interest of full dixclozya I have been to about 8 Rainbow Gatherings so there)
    Or we could call it… the Good Neighbor Festival
    or… or… Hoodstock! Yeah that’s the Ticket!

  9. …and you took me off the ladder. Those germ slides you’ve hung are interesting. I thought I was looking at a piece of art until I saw the second one – and I’ve had nothing to drink stronger than my morning coffee either.

  10. Editilla we’ll get together before too long. The Rainbow Family brought our community back together after Katrina. Much love in the area for the Rainbow Family.

  11. Yes to both the rainbow family and getting together. I have all 4 acts of Joe’s Garage though I’m partial to Act 1 (as I don’t do German very well)..



  12. There was a tidal gage at Bay Waveland Yacht Club from 1978 until 1995, when the Newt Gingrich’s gang slashed the funds for such government “waste.”
    The gage was reinstalled in 2006.

    Here are the highest water readings from 1978-1995 and 2006-2008 (no Katrina, Rita, Camille, or Betsy).

    Mean sea level is 3.25′ on the gage, so Gustav was 10′ above sea level. (Also MSL has risen .15′ in the past 50 years according to NOAA.)

    13.28′ 9/1/2008 (Gustav)
    9.94′ 9/12/2008 (Ike)
    9.16′ 10/28/1985 (Juan)
    8.84′ 1/20/1983 (winter storm)
    8.41′ 7/11/1979 (Bob)
    7.56′ 9/10/1988 (Florence)
    7.40′ 12/23/1986 (winter storm)
    7.33′ 2/26/1984 (winter storm)
    7.18′ 4/22/1979 (spring storm)

    It would be very helpful if we had complete data here and at the other stations in Mississippi and Lousiana, but we don’t. The only gage I see has been there the whole time is Grand Isle. http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/geo.shtml?location=8761724
    Grand Isle’s extremes from 1978 -2008 are, in order,
    Katrina, Gustav, Ike, Rita, Juan, Isadore (2002), Lili (2002), Danny (1997).
    We did not have significant hurricanes with tracks similar to Gustav, Ike, Katrina, or Rita during the earlier BWYC gage period, but the data shows that water stacked up in the bay every time any Gulf storm tracked a little to the west.

  13. The Dauphin Island gage also has been in service for most of the period. Comparing the list of storms between DI & BWYC & Grand Isle shows that 65 miles makes a lot of difference.
    The DI extremes: (Fredrick 1979 would be highest but the gage failed.)
    Ivan 2004, Katrina 2005, Elena 1985, Ike 2008, Opal 1995, Isadore 2002, Gustav 2008, Rita 2005.

  14. Ok, first Brian, I hope this tool helps:

    Now Doucy, so I put you Back On The Ladder today
    wit’yo own link and every’ting!
    I didn’t “take you off” hrmph!
    But y’all were getting booger over here and not just due to my Saturday Beer Thing.
    You guy’s DISAPPEARED and REAPPEARED I swear.
    It was like someone came in here, stole all the furniture in the blog, and replaced it with Identical Replicas!
    Really… I con’tell you don’beeleeve me…

    But back to the Saturday Beer Thing… I seem to have a Jeckel Fetish for hunting around opposition posts and comments sections after consuming copious amounts of BEER… and pouncing upon them like a drunken wart hog.
    Like here for example, you might say I uncoiled my sense of taste and timing:
    [Posted by JoeSlackman on 08/01/09 at 4:22PM
    All right you two. I like my friend from the ladder. He plays rough, but he is definitely not a hater. Except maybe a Corps hater. Anyway, lets keep it civil.]
    to which I retarted:
    [Posted by nonewsladder on 08/02/09 at 5:54AM
    Say it ain’t so Joe!
    There is not “you two”
    To summarize:
    *Grissette/T-P/COPPPR shovels out not 1, not 2 but 3 separate same articles of Buzz Filter on all this Corps work that we have to have all at once right now no ifs ands or especially BUTS..
    **Our commentary and response to this Ubber BS is divided and spread thin between all these different and confusing posts of this one single article of Breaking News.
    ***This Clod, kabel, shows up Barking the Suckit Up and Work Song, as if we do not work who would criticize the Corps Ramrod Project Scheduling.
    ****So, Editilla quotes the Sign above the Forced-Labor Camps of Nazi Germany circa National Socialism.
    *****So the Clod attempts to tell a German Farm story to insult my mother???
    ******So I don’t respond to that, but retart with a song about a Magical Pig Mechanical Marital Aid.
    *******So the Clod tries to insult my mother again, failing that he then moves on to Hating Jews???
    ********Hence, in the face of such abject neocoward Limbaudian Syllodomy….
    I have nothing more to offer but Stand Up.

    No, there is no “you two”.
    These Freak’O’lay Corps defilers like Kabelguy are in a rat bag all of their own making.

    Freak O’lay Corps Defilers

    Thanks youz,
    Editilla the Pun]

  15. Oh and btw, I once had a band and we tried to learn “Why does it hurt when I pee?” but just couldn’t make it through the song without losing it… usually around the lyric:
    Meine Kugeln fielen wie ein Paar maracas
    Meine Kugeln fielen wie ein Paar maracas
    Gott glaubt es Gleichem
    Ich erhielt kein Hahnhahn cocka

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