L’eau Est La Vie and Greta: How Dare You

From Greta to the UN today:

This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be standing here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to me for hope? How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth.

How dare you! For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away, and come here saying that you are doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight. With today’s emissions levels, our remaining CO2 budget will be gone in less than 8.5 years

You say you “hear” us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I don’t want to believe that. Because if you fully understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And I refuse to believe that. The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5C degrees, and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control. Maybe 50% is acceptable to you. But those numbers don’t include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of justice and equity. They also rely on my and my children’s generation sucking hundreds of billions of tonnes of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us – we who have to live with the consequences. To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5C global temperature rise – the best odds given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the world had 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide left to emit back on 1 January 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatonnes.

How dare you pretend that this can be solved with business-as-usual and some technical solutions. With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years. There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures today. Because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. 

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

 

From our local leaders:

Here in the bayous of Louisiana, our water and way of life is under threat, and we need your support.

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the very same company behind the notorious Dakota Access Pipeline, is trying to build a 162 mile crude oil pipeline across Louisiana called the Bayou Bridge Pipeline (BBP).

The BBP will pollute our water, crossing an astounding 700 bodies of water including Bayou LaFourche, a critical reservoir that supplies the United Houma Nation and 300,000 Louisiana residents with clean, safe drinking water.

BBP will destroy our economy. Existing oil pipelines have already created enormous problems for our crawfishing industry. The BBP will only make these problems worse, creating dams in the Atchafalaya Basin dozens of miles long that irreparably damage the ecosystem and make fishing for crawfish impossible. The crawfishing industry supports thousands of good jobs in Louisiana. The BBP will only create 12 permanent jobs.

The BBP violates indigenous sovereignty. Along its path of destruction, the BBP would impact sacred mounds and threaten drinking water of the United Houma Nation, a tribe that has been seeking federal recognition for decades. The United Houma Nation has not been consulted and has not given consent for the construction of this pipeline.

The BBP will destroy our coast. Wetlands are sponges for floodwaters. The BBP will destroy 150 acres of wetlands in its path and will “temporarily” impact 450 more acres. Wetlands are vital to a resilient Southern Louisiana, and already because of climate change and development, Louisiana is losing an average of one acre of coastal wetlands per hour. The State of Luisiana is frantically trying to figure out how to save our coast, but building the BBP will make the situation worse.

The BBP will increase flooding. The loss of wetlands also means increased flooding. When flooding is worse, our communities suffer. Our homes our damaged, our crops are destroyed, our infrastructure is eroded, our families get sick, and our economy is harmed.

The BBP is a climate disaster. It will create the carbon equivalent of 30 new coal plants. The BBP is not compatible with our global mandate to limit climate change to 1.5℃.

Our growing network of impacted landowners, tribal members, environmental justice communities, and fisherfolk have submitted comments, spoken out at hearings, and demanded proper environmental reviews and that our concerns will be taken seriously. None of this has happened. ETP has swindled landowners, bought our politicians, and refused to address any of the community’s needs. Enough is enough. If our leaders won’t stand up to stop this pipeline and protect our water, then we the people of Louisiana will.

We are building the L’eau Est La Vie camp to protect our water and our way of life from the Bayou Bridge pipeline.

Donate now

 

Also check out the work of:

Autumn Peltier, Mari Copeny Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, Xiye BastidaMelati and Isabel Wijsen

 

 

River is remembering

“You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. “Floods” is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, that valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory–what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination is our “flooding.” –Toni Morrison

Swap between city, port will make riverfront more accessible 

The city of New Orleans has acquired two wharves on the Mississippi River, opening up a portion of the riverfront that will give the public contiguous access between Spanish Plaza and Crescent Park in the Bywater.

The port is working with various “hospitality partners” to shore up $15 million to convert the wharves into public park spaces. Some public access to the riverfront is expected to be provided in 2018, according to the news release.

 

Swap between city, port makes riverfront more accessible for public – New Orleans CityBusiness

Spillways 101

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Once again, the New Orleans region serves another purpose for the middle 2/3 of the United States: to manage the water flowing through the lower part of the Mississippi River, so  it does not exceed 1.25 million cubic feet per second in New Orleans, allowing the port to remain active, the population to stay in place and reduces the potential  for the loss of property.

The opening was  praised during a 10 a.m. news conference by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu for its role in keeping the city and neighboring areas safe. “What we’re witnessing right now is really an engineering miracle,” Landrieu said. “So many of us for so long wanted to make sure our homes and our lives were protected by creating a levee system. What you’re about to see is a levee system that is managed as a risk reduction (system), making sure we do what we’re supposed to do and when we’re supposed to do it, to protect lives and protect homes.”

The multilayered flood-control system is formally known as The Mississippi River & Tributaries Project. Administered and built by the Mississippi River Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project was launched after the disastrous Mississippi River Flood of 1927. The project was authorized by Congress in 1928. Before the 1927 flood, levees were the only safeguards used to combat river flooding.

 

Bonnet Carré Spillway

Studies to determine the best location for a spillway along the lower river had identified one at the site of the 19th century Bonnet Carré Crevasse, about 33 river miles above New Orleans. Between 1849 and 1882, four major crevasses had occurred at this location. In fact, during the flood of 1849, a 7,000-foot-wide crevasse at Bonnet Carré flowed for more than six months .

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The Bonnet Carré Spillway consists of two basic components: a control structure along the east bank of the Mississippi River and a floodway that transfers the diverted flood waters to the lake. The spillway was built in response to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 that inundated much of the Mississippi River basin.

Distance above New Orleans 32.8 river miles
Length of Weir Opening 7,000 feet
Number of Bays 350
Width of Bays 20 feet
Creosote Timbers 20 per bay
Floodway Design Capacity 250,000 cfs (cubic feet per second)
Length 5.7 miles
Width at River 7,700 feet
Width at Lake 12,400 feet
U.S. Lands 7,623 acres
Frequency of Operation (est.) 10 years
Year Days Bays Opened (%) Opened Ideal flow capacity
1937 48 285 81.4% 203,571 cu ft/s
1945 57 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1950 38 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1973 75 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1975 13 225 64.3% 160,714 cu ft/s
1979 45 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1983 35 350 100% 250,000 cu ft/s
1997 31 298 85.1% 212,857 cu ft/s
2008 31 160 45.7% 114,286 cu ft/s
2011 42 330 94.3% 235,714 cu ft/s

 

Corps New Orleans District commander Col. Richard Hansen said Tuesday that he expects all 350 bays of the spillway’s weir to be opened. Each bay has 20 creosoted timber “needles” that must be pulled by cranes moving on a rail atop the weir.

There are two graveyards located in the spillway. The cemeteries containing the remains of both free and enslaved African-Americans are under several feet of sediment. According to investigative reporter Shonna Riggs, “The location of the gravesites was a mystery until the 1970’s when the US Corp of Engineers was attempting to excavate a ditch in the spillway.  According to the Louisiana Historical Preservation Society, there are 14 graves located in the Kugler Cemetery and 144 in the Kenner Cemetery. The artifacts discovered during the 1986 study included coffin furniture, coffins, grave markers, cultural remains, and human remains.The cemeteries, named Kenner and Kugler, are black burial plots which appear to date from the early 1800s to 1929. The sites are located on former adjoining 19th- and early 20th-century sugar plantations in St. Charles Parish. According to oral histories, both cemeteries were dedicated burial plots on the back side of their respective plantations. When the Spillway gates are opened, the cemeteries are flooded with up to 30 feet of water diverted from the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain. The January opening marks the earliest that the 5.7-mile-long spillway connecting the Mississippi to Lake Pontchartrain has been opened, and its 11th opening, since it was completed in 1931.

 

Morganza Spillway

The Morganza spillway stands between the Mississippi and the Morganza Floodway, which leads to the Atchafalaya Basin and the Atchafalaya River in south-central Louisiana. Its purpose is to divert water from the Mississippi River during major flood events by flooding the Atchafalaya Basin, including the Atchafalaya River and the Atchafalaya Swamp. In an extreme flood event, a major release of water from the Morganza Spillway into the Morganza Floodway and Atchafalaya Basin inundates not only the floodways themselves (between their levees), but extensive additional areas of southern Louisiana throughout the Atchafalaya Basin.

At risk in the Atchafalaya Basin are Morgan City (population 13,500), various smaller populated places, many farms, thousands of oil and gas wells, and considerable swampland. Inhabitants know that the region is a natural floodplain, and the Corps of Engineers issues written notices annually to all interests reminding them of the possibility that it might open the spillway and flood the area. Any decision to open the spillway must be carefully planned to give ample warning and protect life and property. Part of that planning process includes the Corps’ preparation of maps known as “inundation scenarios” so that interested parties can discuss how much water, if any, should be allowed through the spillway.