Monday, October 16, 2006

Oooohhh, That Smell

The New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board and St. Bernard Parish are considering using treated sewerage to rebuild wetlands in southeast Louisiana.

The $40 million project would create the largest "wetlands treatment" system of its kind in the world, according to New Orleans and St. Bernard officials and state scientists familiar with the plan. It is being pursued by the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board in conjunction with St. Bernard.

The project, which is still being refined, calls for diverting sewage plant discharge that now ends up in the Mississippi River and instead pumping it into wetlands in the vicinity of Bayou Bienvenue. That area once was a dense cypress forest that served as a buffer against Gulf of Mexico hurricanes. But in recent decades, lethal doses of salt water intruded into the wetlands and levees cut off nutrients from the Mississippi. The 30,000-acre area has degenerated into scrub marsh broken up by large swaths of open water.

Louisiana politics stinks. Now, so will our wetlands. But, at least there's symmetry.

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