Louisiana hopes to fight coast erosion by mimicking nature

IRONTON, La. (AP) — Louisiana officials are making plans to tap into the Mississippi’s ancient power to build new land.

They want to harness the river to help reverse coastal erosion and ease the threat of rising seas.

Saltwater has been eating away at the coast for decades. Engineers hope to remake some eroded marshes by siphoning off sediment-rich water that can be channeled into coastal basins. When the sediment settles out of the water, it will slowly accrue into soil. The idea is being funded with settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill.

Some skeptics question whether the idea poses its own environmental risks. But if it works, the project will restore a crucial buffer against storm surges and offer new habitat for migratory birds and fish that rely on wetlands.

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