In April 2013, I took a tour through a picturesque Louisiana swamp lined with moss-draped cypress and tupelo-gum trees. I had expected to see alligators, bald eagles, egrets, herons, snakes and turtles, but only saw a few alligators. Where was all the wildlife?
SoLa: Louisiana Water Stories is a compelling documentary by Jon Bowermaster and Chris Cavanagh that investigates the ecological, economic and social issues facing Louisiana. SoLa examines Louisiana’s importance to the United States, and exposes corruption, pollution and the disaster of Hurricane Katrina.
Louisiana’s waterways support the biggest economies in the state, including a $70 billion a year oil and gas industry, a $2.4 billion a year fishing industry, tourism and recreational sports. Louisiana is also home to the largest Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico and more than 200 petrochemical plants along a 100-mile-long stretch of the Mississippi known “Cancer Alley.”
Since 1900, approximately 4,900 square kilometres of wetlands along the coast of Louisiana have been lost through erosion. Louisiana’s wetlands comprise about 40 per cent of the United State’s continental wetlands and include the largest contiguous wetland system in the lower 48 states. The state’s wetlands include bayous, swamps and marshes. The area around New Orleans and the Mississippi River is known as the Mississippi Delta. Deltas grow in size because of sediment deposited by a river.
The dams and levees that were built to protect from flooding prevent sediment from being deposited and have caused rapid erosion in the Mississippi Delta, making it the fastest-eroding coastline in the United States. The state’s wetlands face further destruction because of numerous canals that provide access to gas and oil wells. Storms also cause erosion and salt water enters canals destroying vegetation vital to the ecosystem.
SoLa: Louisiana Water Stories offers a poignant look at the vibrant way of life in Louisiana, its unique Cajun culture, and the environmental challenges of local communities. Watch SoLa online at Netflix.