Mississippi River diversion for Louisiana being tested near Boston

    A half-continent away, about an hour out of Boston, researchers are replicating proposed coastal projects on a mini replica Mississippi River to see how the project could play out in Louisiana. 

    As the New York Times details in a new feature, the replica Mississippi River—built at 1/65th scale—is one of the most striking parts of an ambitious project to rebuild the state’s vanishing coast, which is rapidly being lost to rising seas and sinking land. 

    Researchers are using the model to test the proposed Mid-Barataria diversion, one of two diversions the state has in the works to try to rebuild lost land on the coast. A diversion uses a set of gates in a river levee that can be opened and closed, therefore guiding the river’s waters—and the sediment, sand and clay within—to the wetland areas that need the material most. 

    Though the model came with a $4 million price tag, Dan Gessler, of Alden Research Laboratory, the lab that built the model, says it’s a bargain. 

    “You’re paying for insurance, basically, to make sure you got it right,” he says. Considering the cost of the finished project, roughly $1.4 billion, and the enormous potential cost of correcting design flaws that a working model can reveal, “it’s very, very cheap.” Read the full article. 

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