- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

HOUMA, La. (AP) - Scientists have released a report on how to divert Mississippi River sediment to build as much land as possible while protecting the environment and local communities.

The Courier reports (https://bit.ly/29YpFEc) a key recommendation by the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition is that diversions should mimic the natural flood cycle of the river, taking full advantage of the winter flood peaks from November to February.

“Winter peaks are fairly common. . On occasion, such as this year where we had an extremely large peak in January, you could take full advantage of all the sand that can be carried at that point,” said Natalie Peyronnin, director of science policy with the Environmental Defense Fund.

Spring and summer operations are still important to take full advantage of peaks, but diversions at those times require a more balanced strategy as vegetation can suffer losses if flooded for long periods, she said.

Diversions should also be made over a five to 10-year period to help create channels to handle the water, reduce the flooding risks and allow plants, fish and wildlife to adjust to new conditions, the scientists said.

If the diversion was to be first opened at 75,000 cubic feet per second, there would be potential flooding risk to communities, Peyronnin said.

“The diversion will cause some initial erosion as it builds this channel network. We need to ensure that we are aware of the erosion that will occur and limit the erosion to areas that are needed for the network,” she said.

It is also important to limit damage to vegetation to prevent additional land loss, she said.

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