Over the last eight decades, more than 2,000 square miles of Louisiana land have disappeared underwater. Now, a new project called Delta for All hopes to recreate this natural process via design. Baird & Associates, one of the winners of the Changing Course competition to reimagine the Delta, thinks the answer might lie in a system of faucets.

This series of tap-like contraptions would periodically dot the river, and could be turned off and on like faucets, allowing sediment to naturally and safely spread.

“Over the next hundred years you can imagine opening the river up in a basin, letting it run for a while, capturing as much sediment as you can [sediment is gold], doing it again in another basin, and kind of cycling through the basins to try to capture as much land as possible,” says Gina Ford, a principal at Sasaki Associates.

This could potentially save New Orleans billions on future flood damage, and even help avoid another $2 billion the city is projected to pay to help replace locks on the current Bonnet Carré Spillway.

The three winning plans in the Changing Course competition were entered by teams from Baird, Moffatt & Nichol and Studio Misi-Ziibi, and all rely on diversion strategies, combining levees and natural processes to fortify land north of the river’s mouth and let parts of the delta sink. It’s the civil engineering equivalent of abandoning the front lines and falling back to more secure fortifications. 

Excerpts of this article were taken from curbed.com and magazine.good.is.