Management of Mississippi delta resources weighed
As The Water Institute of the Gulf in Baton Rouge looks to its future work, the National Research Council gave the institute ideas on how to focus its research in a report released Wednesday.
A council committee sent the institute a collection of possibilities and opportunities that could be used or incorporated into its internal strategic plans.
“So we could see an array of things,” said Denise Reed, chief scientist with the institute, which was organized in 2011 through support from the state of Louisiana and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
Chip Groat, executive director of the institute, said getting the National Research Council involved in giving an outside look and providing ideas for roles the institute could fill in the future was suggested early on in the institute’s formation.
The report doesn’t appear to list any ideas that are completely unknown to the researchers at the institute or in Louisiana. It doesn’t give a different perspective on some items and gives affirmation on others.
In short, the effort was a brainstorming exercise for the ad hoc committee set up by the National Research Council and the resulting report will be used by the institute’s science and engineering advisory committee for planning. Instead of a report directing what should be done, it’s a report that discusses what could be done.
Reed said the report also offers a chance to step back from the institute’s day-to-day work on issues pertaining, right now, to coastal Louisiana and state restoration and protection plans.
“It’s really about where we’re going over the next few years,” Reed said.
Some recommendations for possible focus in the future include research on scientific uncertainties with river diversions, involvement in long-term monitoring of coastal projects and integrating restoration science with how coastal lands are used and how people live and work in those areas. The institute recently hired a director and associate director of human dimensions to help organize and formalize some of that integration.
Groat said other ideas, such as synthesizing the large amount of research on the Mississippi River delta into one place, are great but the trouble is finding a client who is willing to support them financially.
“Yes, it’s of interest, but is there anyone out there who wants to support it,” he said.
Other sections of the report look at one of the institute’s goals of how to take the lessons that have been learned and will be learned in the future on delta management and restoration and exporting that to other deltas around the world.
The report, “Delta Waters: Research to Support Integrated Water and Environmental Management in the Lower Mississippi River,” is available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18484.