October 10, 2013
The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet was meant to be a boon to New Orleans, a shortcut that would enhance commerce and benefit property owners. But as Hurricane Katrina showed devastatingly in 2005, the MRGO had so eroded the wetlands that it exacerbated the damage that the storm surge inflicted on parts of the city and adjoining St. Bernard Parish.
The new documentary “MRGO-ING, GOING GONE?” traces decades of efforts to close the notorious channel. And Senior Research Fellow Mark Davis, Director of Tulane Law School’s Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy, plays a role in pointing out the moral responsibility that comes with making policy decisions affecting the environment along with business and civic interests.
WYES-TV/Channel 12 is set to begin airing the documentary Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.
Davis, standing near a body of water littered with cypress tree stumps, points out that the Bayou Bienvenue Wetland Triangle once was home to land at least three feet above the water. Efforts are being made to restore the area as a critical flood barrier for New Orleans, particularly the Lower Ninth Ward.
“This was once part of a neighborhood. The question is, what’s its future?” Davis said.
He said the fate of the city and of the Louisiana coast depend on learning from experience and finding the resources and commitment to fix the damage that was done over many years by the MRGO. He emphasized that it was people’s persistence that got the law changed so the channel would be closed.
“The only guarantee is a committed and engaged community,” he said. “There are no exceptions.”
The Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law & Policy aims to foster the development of laws and policies that promote sustainable management of water resources. With New Orleans and the surrounding coast as a “living laboratory,” the Institute works to help enlighten the application of science, engineering and management practices to meet ecological, cultural and economic needs in Louisiana, along the Gulf Coast, nationally and internationally.