Gate channels that protect New Orleans. Image: Chuck Wagner Shutterstock
Rising sea levels put cities like New Orleans at risk. The technologies that have been applied for their protection are insufficient in the face of the new environmental reality.
Protection method in New Orleans.
The city’s protection system is made up of 560 kilometers of levees, retaining walls, in addition to 73 pumping stations, three canal closure structures, and four closed exits.
New Orleans, pumping station. Image: Victor Wong Shutterstock
$14 billion has been invested in the existing network of levees and retaining walls . They were built to protect it after Hurricane Katrina. However, its improvement due to the increase in sea level is being evaluated.
New Orleans floods. Image: NorthStarPhotos Shutterstock
The National Academy of Sciences projected in 2016 that New Orleans is one of the cities most vulnerable to Climate Change. Other cities at great risk are Jakarta, the Philippines, Manila, Indonesia or Bangkok.
The American military plans to build hundreds of kilometers of levees and retaining walls to form a fortress of earth and concrete around the city and adjacent suburbs.
The project involves reinforcing the existing levees. For this, the surface layer must first be restored.
Barrier Island in southeastern Louisiana.
Louisiana has a dozen islands that constitute a natural barrier, it works as a protective shield against storms.
It also serves as a breeding ground for fish and provides rest for birds on their strenuous migratory flights.
As a result of the canalization of the Mississippi River, the wetlands were gradually depleted by the abundance of sediments carried into the area. As if that weren’t enough, the sea level rises a centimeter and a half every year, slowly devouring the coast.
Adding to this bleak outlook are storms, oil spills and the dire effects of climate change. The Gulf of Mexico is expected to expand further, leaving the area more vulnerable than ever.
Given the current problems, the redesign of the Louisiana wetland barrier is needed, the construction of a protective infrastructure with walls and flood defense dams, it is estimated that it will require an investment of 50 billion dollars in the next fifty years.
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