Long levees could damage coast

March 16, 2007
Reported by Associated Press

Sixteen coastal scientists and engineers are warning that building long levees along Louisiana's coast for additional hurricane protection could instead hasten coastal deterioration.

In a two-page letter to Governor Kathleen Blanco and Lieutenant General Carl Strock of the U-S Army Corps of Engineers, the scientists and engineers say the state and corps' coastal protection plans rely too heavily on building large levee systems, which they say will promote development in former wetland areas.

Of particular concern is the concept of building "leaky levees," which are levee systems with openings through which water can continue to flow unless there is a storm. During storms, these systems could be closed by gates.

Sidney Coffee, the chairwoman for the group developing the state's master plan -- the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority -- said the letter includes concerns the state is already trying to address.