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by Yavni Bar-Yam
The Future of New Orleans
LTC (ret) Vic Zillmer and Prof. Yaneer Bar-Yam observing the construction of the IHNC Lake Borgne Surge Barrier.

Lake Borgne Surge Barrier

Next Prof. Bar-Yam and Mr. Seguin visited the Lake Borgne surge reduction barrier spanning the mouth of the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, where it flows into the Gulf inter-coastal waterway and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO). The Lake Borgne Surge Barrier is part of the ongoing work to relegate the old "parallel protection" levee system, which separates canals from settled areas, to a secondary line of defense. The primary defense will be barriers like the one at Lake Borgne, which block storm surges from even entering the canals. The new strategy is due to the history of failures along the parallel-protection canals, with devastating consequences. LTC (ret) Vic Zillmer, resident engineer of the IHNC Lake Borgne Surge Barrier, described the project to Prof. Bar-Yam. He discussed the engineering challenges of building a robust structure on marshy, silty ground underwater, and explained that a competition was fostered among industry designers to come up with solutions to those challenges.

He then took Prof. Bar-Yam aboard the "Capt. Boogie" for a tour of the construction site. A canal has been dredged in the marsh to allow construction equipment to operate on barges, as the marshland cannot support heavy land-based construction equipment. In an effort to negate the environmental harm wreaked by previous destruction of swampland, the Corps uses materials dredged during their construction of the surge barrier to re-constitute areas of destroyed swamp.

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