In the busy swirl of preparing for ENR’s Award of Excellence event on March 26, I am reminded that Senior Editor Tom Sawyer and New Orleans Correspondent Angelle Bergeron started writing about the world’s deltas when they covered Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath on the Mississippi River delta. That research led to writing ENR’s Award of Excellence story about Ed Link, who led the team that performed an intensive analysis of the Louisiana flood-protection system after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Sawyer mingled with world’s delta experts.
Photo: Boniface Bigornia
Sawyer mingled with world’s delta experts.

Much reporting for this week’s cover story comes from Sawyer’s recent trip to Aquaterra 2009, a biennial conference in Amsterdam on protecting the world’s delta environments. These deltas, with their concentrations of port cities and infrastructure, face environmental degradation, land subsidence, rising sea level and storm surges.

The opening reception for Aquaterra (see photo left) was held in a building that was the headquarters of the West India Company, where a group called the Nineteen Lords made the decision to build the fort of New Amsterdam on the delta of the Hudson River—the site that would later become New York City.

Bergeron contributed wide-ran ging reporting on the Corps of Engineers’ plan to let 113 contracts totaling $4 billion this year. This represents the next phase of its overall $14.3-billion program to raise the storm- surge defenses around New Orleans to a 100-year storm level by 2011.

This digital edition carries a rich set of videos embedded in the pages of the story. Be sure to click the arrows on the photos and bring the videos to life. “We are delivering an international story to an international audience with the best technology available,” Sawyer says. “Instant communication in this digital age.”

Janice L. Tuchman