In re the Complaint of Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., — F.3d —-, 2010 WL 4013336 (5th Cir.(La.) Oct 14, 2010)
In this consolidated limitation action, Claimants, Hurricane Katrina floodvictims, filed claims against the Limitation Petitioners, private companies thatoperated twenty-two dredging vessels along the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet pursuant to contracts with the United States Army Corps of Engineers.Claimants suffered damages from the flooding of Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes when several levee systems failed as a result of the erosion of protective wetlands allegedly caused by the Limitation Petitioners’ negligent maintenance dredging operations. The Limitation Petitioners moved to dismiss the claims under FEDERAL RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(1) and 12(c). The district court granted the motion to dismiss, finding that the Limitation Petitioners owed no duty to the Claimants because the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina was not a foreseeable result of the allegedly negligent conduct of any Limitation Petitioner. Claimants timely appealed. We affirm the judgment of the district court.
Florida is facing the same problems with global warming that face Louisiana: as the beaches try to retreat inland with ocean rise, they are stopped by armoring on developments. For Louisiana, this means the end of the wet lands. For Florida, it means the end of the beaches. For a good discussion, see:
Robert E. Deyle, Katherine C. Bailey, and Anthony Matheny. Adaptive Response Planning to Sea Level Rise in Florida and Implications for Comprehensive and Public-Facilities Planning. September 1, 2007.
Thomas K. Ruppert, Eroding Long-Term Prospects for Florida’s Beaches: Florida’s Coastal Management Policy. August 19, 2008. Research for this white paper was funded by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at www.helpingseaturtles.org.
Missouri River: Recognizing and Incorporating Sediment Management, National Academy Press 2011
Historically, the flow of sediment in the Missouri River has been as important as the flow of water for a variety of river functions. The sediment has helped form a dynamic network of islands, sandbars, and floodplains, and provided habitats for native species. Further downstream, sediment transported by the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers has helped build and sustain the coastal wetlands of the Mississippi River delta. The construction of dams and river bank control structures on the Missouri River and its tributaries, however, has markedly reduced the volume of sediment transported by the river. These projects have had several ecological impacts, most notably on some native fish and bird species that depended on habitats and landforms created by sediment flow.
Missouri River Planning describes the historic role of sediment in the Missouri River, evaluates current habitat restoration strategies, and discusses possible sediment management alternatives. The book finds that a better understanding of the processes of sediment transport, erosion, and deposition in the Missouri River will be useful in furthering river management objectives, such as protection of endangered species and development of water quality standards.
R. Eugene Turner, Doubt and the Values of an Ignorance-Based World View for Restoration: Coastal Louisiana Wetlands. Estuaries and Coasts (2009) 32:1054–1068.
Christopher M. Swarzenski, Thomas W. Doyle, Brian Fry, and Thomas G. Hargis. Biogeochemical response of organic-rich freshwater marshes in the Louisiana delta plain to chronic river water influx. Biogeochemistry (2008) 90:49–63.
Michael S. Kearney, J. C. Riter & R. Eugene Turner, Freshwater river diversions for marsh restoration in Louisiana: Twenty-six years of changing vegetative cover and marsh area, 38 Geophysical Research Letters (2011)
Tweel, Andrew W, and R Eugene Turner. “Watershed Land Use and River Engineering Drive Wetland Formation and Loss in the Mississippi River Birdfoot Delta.” Limnol. Oceanogr 57, no. 1 (2012): 18–28.
Turner, R Eugene. “Beneath the Salt Marsh Canopy: Loss of Soil Strength with Increasing Nutrient Loads.” Estuaries and Coasts 34, no. 5 (2011): 1084–93.
RE Turner, On the cusp of restoration: science and society, Restoration ecology (2005)
Christopher M. Swarzenski, Surface-Water Hydrology of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in South-Central Louisiana, 1996-1999, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1672.
These papers raise serious doubts about the use of river diversions to restore marshland. It is conventional wisdom that river water will provide sediment to build up the bed of the marsh and nutrients to encourage plant growth. These papers undermine that conventional wisdom through looking at the actual effect of river water on marshes. They found that diversions may weaken marshes, rather than build them up.
National Commission on Children and Disasters. 2010 Report to the President and Congress. AHRQ Publication No. 10-M037. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. October 2010.
An interesting report on the special problems of children in disasters. While children certainly have special needs in disasters, these reports on different special populations raise the issue of disaggregating disaster response, especially evacuations. Emergency response and evacuation systems have limited resources and tasking them will multiple strategies for multiple populations will make it difficult for them to serve any populations effectively. This again raises the issue of the importance of mitigation and disaster avoidance as opposed to disaster response.
Green building strategies include minimizing building materials and building in ways that may increase risks from earthquakes, floods, hail, and wind. FEMA raises some of these issues in this report:
Natural Hazards and Sustainability for Residential Buildings, FEMA P-798 / September 2010
Insurance can be key in helping communities adapt to and manage the risks associated with climatic events, according to a report by Zurich-based Swiss Reinsurance Co.
The report, released at the opening of Climate Week NY°C 2010 in New York on Monday, says new forms of risk transfer that involve public and private sectors can offer ways for poor communities in developing countries to insure climate risks and losses associated with large natural disasters, the report states.
Climate Week is a “global forum to mobilize an international public-private response to climate change,” according to the conference’s website.
See the real numbers on the funding and premiums for the National Flood Insurance Program.
From the University of Colorado Natural Hazards Observer:
Corps of Engineers’ Steven Stockton
Avoiding the Single Line of Defense
Natural Hazards Observer • September 2010
“Where are the visionaries for the future? [Congress’] focus is on a million different areas. It’s not on water infrastructure or on disaster risk mitigation,” says Steven Stockton, director of Civil Works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In a frank and wide-ranging discussion at the 35th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop, Stockton described the many issues the Corps faces, including the overly optimistic expectations the public has for protection by engineered structures like dams and levees. “Building strong is kind of our tagline,” Stockton says. “It’s not just about structural solutions, it’s about building strong collaborative relationships with sustainable resource futures … there is no absolute when it comes to levels of protection. There’s a lot of controversy in New Orleans, where we’re putting in $15 billion there over a three year period developing a very strong and robust and resilient system.” The system includes the world’s largest surge barrier and the world’s largest pumping plant.
“But that provides about a 100-year level of protection, which is relatively low,” Stockton says. “The public either doesn’t want to or cannot grasp exactly what their portion of the risk is.”
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