St. Louis Public Radio News
1:05 pm
Tue June 3, 2003

Some Problems in Louisiana Start in Midwest

St. Louis, MO – A recent report from the government says Louisiana's coastline is disappearing faster than first thought. And scientists say part of that erosion problem begins in the Midwest.

The U-S Geological Survey says by the year 2050, one-third of Louisiana's current coastline could be gone.

Restoration depends a lot on sediments, which are diverted as they flow south to build new land along the coast.

But the USGS' Jimmy Johnston says the locks and dams along the Missouri and upper Mississippi Rivers trap much of that sediment.

"They have had numbers as high as 67% of the sediments that come down the river are being diverted or meeting these locks and dams," Johnston says. "If you have less sediments there'll be less sediments to build land."

The new survey doesn't specifically mention the Midwest. Johnston says more study is needed to know just how upper river locks and dams affect coastlines in the south.