Wetlands & Land Loss

Distributary Ecologies: Managing faucets to create a range of ecosystems

We propose to cycle between distributaries (faucets) to preserve a balance of estuarine and freshwater ecosystems. We must think of the Delta as a whole in sustaining fish and wildlife.

diversity of ecosystem_with gulf shown-06

Diversity of Delta Ecosystem

Estuarine zones with wetlands are an essential part of the ecosystem and to the recreational and commercial fishing community. We have grown accustomed to estuarine conditions across the Delta because most of the freshwater and the land-building sediment have been transported to the Gulf channelized by the levees of the Mississippi. Land building with the river therefore means less estuarine area – it is a difficult trade-off and it will be necessary to find an equitable balance.


  • Rapid land-loss and minimal land growth
  • Estuarine conditions across the Delta

Growth Stage of a sub-Delta (faucet on):

  • Rapid land-building
  • Freshening of water
  • Freshwater wetlands, swamps, and forests

Submergence Stage of a sub-Delta (faucet off):

  • Estuarine ecosystems created as salty water from the Gulf mixes with freshwater in wetlands
  • Submergence and erosion begin to occur

How will this work? Read more about our approach.