Apr 16, 2009

Louisiana Begins Wetland Repair with Mississippi River Sediment

First project of its kind in state history underway

The first project in Louisiana state history designed to mine sediments from the Mississippi River and transport them by pipeline to rebuild eroding coastal wetlands was announced April 14 by Gov. Bobby Jindal.The $28.3-million project, known as The Mississippi River Sediment Delivery System at Bayou Dupont, will build and restore nearly 500 acres of marsh in Lower Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes using sediment from the Mississippi River."The Bayou Dupont Project breaks new ground for coastal restoration in our state because it is the first time we have carried out a project to transport sediments from the Mississippi River through a pipeline to build wetlands outside the river's levees," Gov. Jindal said. "This project is a great example of the ways the state and Environmental Protection Agency are pushing to use available sediments in the Mississippi River to build land rather than dredging them and dumping them in a wasteful way. The path forward in rebuilding our coast is capturing and using sediment transported in our waterways to rebuild and strengthen our coasts."The wetlands being restored have been destroyed by hurricanes and saltwater intrusion. Louisiana has about 40 percent of the nation's wetlands and experiences 90 percent of the coastal wetlands loss in the entire lower 48 states.As these coastal wetlands turn to open water, their ability to impede approaching storms is reduced and the risk of catastrophic loss of life and property from hurricanes is greatly increased, warns Restore or Retreat, a nonprofit coastal advocacy group. "The Barataria and Terrebonne basins are the two most rapidly eroding estuaries on Earth, and this erosion represents an economic and ecological crisis," the group has said.Under the newly announced project, dredged material will be taken from the Mississippi River to two sites in the Upper Barataria Basin in Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes on what is called the Barataria Landbridge.The project will be built using federal and state funds from the Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act program with project oversight from the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The state is paying 15 percent of the cost--a total of $4.24 million--out of the state's coastal trust fund.Gov. Jindal said the contract for this project was awarded in February and work on building the infrastructure and laying the pipeline has begun. Marsh reconstruction is scheduled to start this summer.