Raleigh engineer leads winning Mississippi Delta restoration design team

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Mississippi delta

Raleigh-based project manager Jeff Shelden has led a study that achieved finalist status in an international design competition to seek ideas for restoring the Mississippi Delta’s wetlands, as Louisiana began taking a closer look at flood protection following Hurricane Katrina.

Sheldon, who works at Moffat & Nichol, a global planning and engineering design firm, co-ordinated one of three winning teams (from 20 original participants) for Changing Course’s 100-year framework design plans, which will be considered in Louisiana’s next coastal master plan in 2017.

The heart of Moffatt & Nichol’s plan, entitled ‘The Giving Delta,’ establishes a new balance of systems reliant on the Mississippi River, providing maximum benefit to the ecosystem, economy and community. The power of the annual, naturally occurring flood pulse of the river is leveraged, yielding maximum sediment capture while balancing estuarine recovery using freshwater residence as a primary design parameter in the five estuarine basins. On an annual basis, fisheries, communicates and ecosystems will adapt to seasonally changing conditions and a working Delta will emerge.

“We recognize that there is no silver bullet and that the focus must be on a comprehensive framework where projects work in concert to achieve ultimate goals,” Shelden said. “The biggest challenge is implementation, but we hope the competition will help the process.”

Thousands of miles of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands have vanished over the last century and the land continues to vanish at an astounding rate. Louisiana’s next coastal Master Plan in 2017 will consider the design plan of each winning team. Moffatt & Nichol’s team included the award-winning, international design and landscape architecture firm, West 8, along with the Louisiana State University Coastal Sustainability Studio.

Changing Course is led by staff from the Environmental Defense Fund and Van Alen Institute. The Environmental Defense Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental advocacy. The Van Halen Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to designs that transform cities, landscapes and regions.

Moffatt & Nichol’s winning design plan is located on our website here: http://www.moffattnichol.com/featured-practical-solutions

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