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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Houston Geological Society


Deltas: Models for Exploration, 1975
Pages 223-238

An Approach to Multiuse Management in the Mississippi Delta System

Sherwood M. Gagliano, Johannes L. Van Beek


The Louisiana coastal zone is dominated by the Mississippi Delta System. The vast input of fresh water and sediment, interaction between riverine and marine processes, a favorable climatic setting, and the cyclic habit of the delta system combine to produce a coastal area exceptionally rich in renewable resources. Under natural conditions, the self-maintaining nature of the delta system insured continuity of these resources, but human activity has seriously altered this natural balance. Massive environmental degradation has occurred during the past 30-40 years, and the entire system may soon collapse. Primary causes of deterioration include: 1) flood control and navigation improvement, 2) accelerated subsidence, 3) urban encroachment into wetlands, 4) water pollution, and 5) canal dredging.

The problem of restoring the system's balance while allowing for projected growth and development has been addressed through a series of studies. A multiuse management plan is proposed based on analysis of natural and human processes operating in the area and land-use suitability. Highways and other public works projects provide the mechanism for directing growth and development to environmentally suitable areas. Renewable resource areas are identified, and management priorities and guidelines outlined. Of prime importance is a water resource management program providing for conservation of local runoff, as well as direction of Mississippi River water and sediment for environmental maintenance and enhancement. Controlled delta building and introduction of supplemental water into estuarine basins are vital to restoration of the nutritional balance. The proposed plan is an attempt to arrive at a regional land-use geometry which will allow for efficient human use, minimize detrimental impact on the natural systems operative in the area, and require the least possible input of resources and supplemental energy to develop and maintain.

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