How Sewage Could Save New Orleans

Bayou Metairie

New Orleans, that most unlucky of cities, could be protected from hurricanes and wetland degradation by … sewage? That’s what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (SWBNO), and a slew of nonprofits say.

National Geographic reports that semi-treated wastewater and biosolids pumped into Bayou Bienvenue–a 30,000 acre “swampy wasteland”–could inject the area with enough nutrients and soil-like material to revive the local ecosystem. Once the ecosystem has been revived, it could spur a growth of cypress and tupelo seedlings, as well as a number of other wetlands species. Those species act as a natural buffer against hurricane damage. And after the revived ecosystem takes root, wetland species will naturally clean out the waste.

SWBNO has $10 million from the state of Louisiana for the project, which will begin with a 20-acre test project in the southwest corner of the bayou. If all goes well, SWBNO and its partners will dump wastewater into the whole bayou.

It’s tempting to say that New Orleans has dealt with enough crap recently, but if a little more can actually help the beleaguered city, we’re all for it.AS