Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pray for rain in NOLA?

Here's a deliciously counter intuitive thought: Believe It or Not, More Rain Would Benefit New Orleans:

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina -- probably the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history -- a leading ecologist says that one of the best things that could happen to New Orleans and the rest of southern Louisiana and Mississippi would be more rain.

"People might think IÂ?m kidding, but I'm not," said Dr. Seth R. Reice [...] An intense rain would dilute the water and could make it possible to varying degrees for organisms -- both large and small -- to cope with it better, Reice said.

Reice goes on say something that has been on my mind since the flood:
[...]authorities in New Orleans are making a large mistake by pumping the floodwater into Lake Ponchartrain, Reice said.

"They have no business doing this," the biologist said. "It is going to cause tremendous pollution and probably big fish kills. Instead, they should have pumped it as far out to sea as they could or at least into the Mississippi where the current would dilute it. Or they could have treated it in wastewater treatment plants. They over-reacted to the need to drain the streets and gave no thought to the severe environmental damage to the lake and its fishes."

Obviously, there is no way to treat all the flood water. Even if it were feasible, it would delay the draining of the city and cause more festering and damage. And normal pumping drains into Lake Ponchartrain for the simple reason that the lake is lower than the river, and the river is normally more of a flooding threat than the lake. But the idea of pumping flood water into the Mississippi is so simple and is so obviously advantageous. The Mississippe currently drains into deep water, and its turgid waters have created a "dead zone" that would be a better place for the polluted flood waters to flow -- I'm surprised that others have not had this idea.

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