|DISPATCHES FROM THE BAYOU STATE - INTRODUCTION|
It's not news that water is a significant issue here in Southern Louisiana. Much of the region lays below sea level and the waterways that surround - swamps & bayous, rivers & estuaries, man-made canals & the Gulf of Mexico - are never out of sight. Everyone debates concerns about its flow, purity and future at every level.
A dead zone the size of New Jersey - where nothing lives - grows at the mouth of the Mississippi River, thanks to chemical runoff. A recent oil spill in the big river unleashed 420,000 gallons of fuel oil that within 24 hours lined its banks for 100 miles. Old-growth Cyprus trees that anchor its historic swamps are clear-cut and turned into garden mulch. Wetlands are expanding, land is disappearing and New Orleans is still eight feet below sea level. Lots of grim news, right? So why does everyone we meet seem to be so damn happy? Follow along during the next two weeks as we explore Southern Louisiana from sea level and below.