Coastal Desk

Southeast Louisiana is sinking under the waves faster than any coastal landscape in the world. With so much at stake for Louisiana and the nation, WWNO has made coastal news a priority.

Since mid-2014 our Coastal Desk reporting team has been producing frequent news reports and in-depth features covering coastal erosion and restoration; hurricane protection; offshore energy and other coastal businesses; wildlife and fisheries impacts; and coastal communities and culture.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Walton Family Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and local listeners.

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Travis Lux / WWNO

The state’s cornerstone coastal restoration project has been delayed. The announcement was made in Baton Rouge at the monthly Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board meeting.

If constructed, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion would build land by diverting some of the muddy Mississippi River water through a controlled structure along the river levee, and into nearby marshes.

Despite continued pushback from commercial fishing groups, state officials are eager to get the project built quickly. Last year, the state signed an agreement with the federal government that would speed up the timeline for the project by about two years.

Travis Lux / WWNO

After a couple years of billing issues, the Sewerage and Water Board (SWB) said last fall that citizens owed the utility about $23 million dollars. Now, it turns out that number is even higher.

At a city council committee meeting on Tuesday, council member Joe Giarrusso revealed that the number is currently closer to $130 million.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Join WWNO's Coastal Desk and Canoe & Trail Adventures for a canoe and kayak trip down Cane Bayou on the Northshore!

One of the coolest things about the Louisiana coast is the way it gradually transitions from cypress swamp into open marsh, and you'll see it firsthand on Cane Bayou. WWNO and Northshore-based outfitter Canoe & Trail Adventures are teaming up to present this this paddle tour, led by a master naturalist, who will tell us all about the plants, animals and history of this slice of Louisiana's unique coastal ecosystem.

Last year's trip sold out in advance so make sure to sign up soon!

Travis Lux / WWNO

The Mississippi River has been at flood stage for months. Levees and spillways keep most homes and businesses safe and dry from the flood waters, but the high water still creates headaches for levee districts and industries like oil and gas, and fisheries.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO coastal reporter Travis Lux went to find out how the river creates problems we can’t always see. WWNO’s Tegan Wendland got the details.

Drew Broach / Nola.com | The Times-Picayune

The company that owns a big chemical factory in Jefferson Parish wants to expand, but is getting pushback from residents who are concerned about air quality.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO’s Travis Lux talks with Nola.com | The Times-Picayune reporter Drew Broach about where things go from here.

The transcript below has been edited for clarity:

Butterbean/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Several Louisiana mayors are part of a group lobbying lawmakers in Washington D.C. this week to support infrastructure spending -- and with a particular focus on projects and programs aimed at addressing extreme weather events.

 

Representatives from the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative (MRCTI)  went to Washington to meet with congressional members and White House staff. They want lawmakers to prioritize infrastructure, and to focus on helping cities prepare for and adapt to climate change.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Last year, the city of New Orleans announced that workers had sucked 46 tons of Mardi Gras beads from catch basins on the side of the road. And that was from just five blocks along St. Charles Avenue -- one of the main parade routes.

That news got a lot of attention, and a growing number of people are trying to figure out how to reduce Mardi Gras waste -- without reducing the magic.

This week on the Coastal News Roundup, WWNO’s Travis Lux and Thomas Walsh take a look at what’s being done.

Travis Lux / WWNO

Heavy rains in the Midwest have caused the Mississippi River to swell. To relieve pressure on local levees, the Army Corps of Engineers will begin operating the Bonnet Carre Spillway in Norco on Wednesday.

The levees near New Orleans are only built to handle water moving at 1.25 million cubic feet per second -- quick enough to fill the Superdome in about a minute, the Corps estimates. When the river gets going that fast the Corps opens the spillway, diverting some of that water into Lake Pontchartrain.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

This week on the Coastal News Roundup: officials investigate who or what might have been behind all the dead pelicans in Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes. Plus, an update on the Taylor Energy oil well that’s been leaking in the Gulf of Mexico for almost 15 years.

WWNO’s Travis Lux talks with environment reporter Tristan Baurick from Nola.com | The Times-Picayune about the week in coastal news.

Travis Lux / WWNO

The River Parishes are about to get a major new coastal protection project: 18 miles of storm surge levees between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

St. John, St. James, and St. Charles Parishes are only protected from flood waters along the Mississippi River. There are currently no levees on the swampier side of those parishes along Lake Pontchartrain.

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