LA Safe 2019 – Realistic Plan for Adaptation to Sea Level Rise or Denial of the Real Risks?

Drawing of Louisiana landscape

Cover of LA SAFE Report

LA Safe 2019

From the Report:

LA SAFE provides a regional strategy and six individual parish strategies. The regional plan describes regional-scale challenges and corresponding program and policy recommendations. Each parish strategy provides more detailed recommendations and includes six project proposals applicable to that specific parish. Within each parish, one or two projects—chosen from the six projects described in its individual plan—are funded for implementation by LA SAFE. These projects and programs were developed and selected in concert with the engagement process, based on qualitative and quantitative community benefit, leverage funding, community preference, and parish benefit through the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System (CRS).

The strategies are designed to be read independently or together. The regional strategy complements each parish document. What is common across all the documents are low, moderate, and high risk typologies (see Chapter 2: LA SAFE Process, pages 52 – 55), five planning categories (see Chapter 1: Introduction, page 29), and one consistent hierarchy of strategy recommendations (see Chapter 4: Vision and Strategies, pages 98 – 99).

This plan has great graphics and a fairly realistic depiction of the future impact of sea-level rise and subsidence on the Louisiana Coast. Its proposals for adaption are largely unrealistic: financially, geologically, and hydrologically. Outside of existing levee systems, it presumes massive levee building. This is downplayed in the document, likely because of the huge costs and environmental destruction which would be required for their construction. Inside levee systems, including New Orleans, it assumes little impact of future subsidence. It also postulates water management systems – living with water – that are not well suited to below sea level communities subject to catastrophic rains and potential storm surge.