Deltares involved in the recovery of the Mississippi delta

Published: 30 September 2014

Deltares is a part of the Moffatt & Nichol Team, one of the three finalists in the prestigious ‘Changing Course Lower Mississippi River Delta’-competition. A total of 21 international teams entered the competition.

The winning teams were selected on the basis of their understanding of the Lower Mississippi River Delta region and their innovative ideas for the structuring and restructuring of deltas. The competition was organised by a team of experts, with support from the state of Louisiana and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

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Billion-dollar investment

The three finalists will produce a blueprint for the recovery of the Mississippi River delta, a large-scale long-term project involving a billion-dollar investment. The delta is facing a range of problems. Over the past century, large swathes of the wetlands protecting the coast have been lost, amounting to an area that is about as large as the state of Delaware. And the process is still ongoing. There is also severe land subsidence in the delta. If nothing is done, flood protection for the residents of the coastal regions, including New Orleans, will be at additional risk. And the numerous businesses located here will also be endangered.

Complex challenge

The challenge is a large and complex one. It involves the recovery of natural and ecological assets of the delta, but also the enhancement of community flood resilience and the maintenance of the navigability of the Mississippi, which is extremely important in economic terms. The problems date back some time but the need for action was exacerbated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in 2010.

Nature-based engineering

Deltares was asked to join the team because of our extensive international experience with the structuring and restructuring of deltas using innovative concepts such as nature-based engineering, which combines flood protection and the recovery of the ecosystem. Kees Sloff worked on the project on behalf of Deltares: ‘In addition, we have a unique understanding of the natural system, and we include that in our computer models. That allows us to calculate the impact of the design on the soil and water system, and to see whether the stated objectives will be achieved. That establishes a picture of any intended or unintended side-effects.’

2017 Coastal Master Plan

The definitive winner will be selected in 2015. The plans are intended to assist Louisiana coastal planners and engineers with developing Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan.

Link to:  Moffatt & Nichol Team,

Link to:  ‘Changing Course Lower Mississippi River Delta’-competition.