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New Science Shows Mississippi River Water Could Kill Marshes, Not Grow Them

The centerpiece of Louisiana's Master Planto stem coastal erosion is this: divert the Mississippi River to let it flow over the marsh. Sediment in the river is supposed to stick and build up the wetlands, keeping more Louisiana land above water as sea levels rise.

But as The Lens' Bob Marshall explores in this new report, the river does not only carry sediment. It also carries chemicals, runoff from fertilizer used on farmland upstream. New science from researchers outside Louisiana seems to confirm what a small group of scientists in the state have said for years: those fertilizer chemicals in the water might eat away at the marsh faster than the diverted river sediment builds it up. Marshall's full report here:


The head of Louisiana's coastal agency says the new research should not stop the state from moving forward with its plans to divert the Mississippi River. With the rapid pace of wetlands erosion, the state does not want to wait for more conclusive research while more miles of Louisiana coast disappear.

This news content made possible with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

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