The Giving Delta Lower Mississippi River Delta, United States
Project timeline: 2013 - 2015
Clients: Environmental Defense Fund, State of Louisiana, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Scope: Design Competition, Regional Coastal Resilience plan, Research by design
Size: 3 million acres (5000 square miles)
With: West 8 urban design & landscape architecture, p.c.
Claire Agre, Principal & Senior Landscape Architect
Team: Moffatt & Nichol, Lousisiana State University Coastal Sustainability Studio, University of New Orleans, RAND Corporation, Deltares
Awards: First Prize, International Invited Design Competition, 2016 ASLA New York Chapter Merit Award
Most coastal settlements occupy a tenuous line at the edge of water and land. They are strategically positioned on the ocean’s edge, but have to balance the consequences of coastal storms and increasingly the effects of climate change. However, the Deltaic Louisiana Coast has an opportunity that most other coastal regions do not: a dynamic, sediment-rich river that drains 40% of the contiguous US, which can continuously replenish this edge into a rich, productive wetland zone.
Louisiana can free itself from a century-long approach of flood control into one of controlled flooding, allowing the annual pulses of the Mississippi to sustain a thriving wetland apron and allow for active land-building, protecting one of the Nation’s most crucial economic zones, enhancing ecosystem productivity, and nourishing human occupation for centuries to come.
The team integrated a host of economic, engineering and design ideas, bringing these strategies to a level of realism that demonstrates feasibility. First and foremost, The Giving Delta is a strategic plan that shows the cost benefit of solving wicked problems is possible with a committed multidisciplinary team.
A suite of solutions included: Sand Motors and barrier islands utilizing longshore processes to keep sediment and sand in the littoral zone; sediment traps and dedicated dredging; economic investment corridors bundled with infrastructural spines; active control and placement of precious sediments to the areas within the Coastal Zone where it is needed most urgently for economic and residential protection; active and passive spillways and controlled floodways sized for projected flood levels that maximize sediment deposition while keeping salinity levels within the tolerance of fisheries, and native ecosystems.