Civil engineers and geologists working with the University of Illinois, together with representatives of the US Army Corps of Engineers, recently stumbled upon a valuable piece of information.
Thus, while investigating how the 2011 flooding of the Mississippi River and the opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway impacted on the regions nearby it, they came to understand that sand coming from river beds and channeled by means of spillways can be used to restore wetlands.
More precisely, it seems that when the aforementioned spillway was opened last year, as much as 36 to 41 percent of Mississippi's sand load make its way through the opening, together with the water that civil engineers were trying to get rid of.
The fact that river sediments can be so easily manipulated for the purpose of rebuilding destroyed ecosystems took researchers quite by surprise, but also made them optimistic about future conservation projects.
Illinois' News Bureau
reports that specialist Jeffrey Nittrouer argued that, “That was a completely unexpected finding in this particular study.”
He further explained how “Back when the structure was built, the Army Corps of Engineers just wanted to get water out of the river. But it turns out that where they decided to place the spillways was a fantastic location for getting sand out as well.”
In the light of these new findings, said researchers are looking into the possibility of using this readily-available technology to restore the portions of land belonging to the Louisiana delta back to their former glory.
According to the same source, wetlands typically win and lose sediment deposits as various water sources periodically flood them.
However, the expansion of human society has disrupted this natural mechanism to a considerable extent, which is why efforts must now be purposely directed at rebuilding these natural habitats.
For the time being, there is one more detail that scientists need to focus on: how to flood wetlands while at the same time keeping residential areas safe and sound.