Archive for Myrtle Grove Sediment Diversion
This is the fourth post in our "The Next 50 Years" Coastal Master Plan series. Check back as we continue diving into the master plan and what it means for the people and environment of the Mississippi River Delta.
By Alisha A. Renfro, Ph.D., Staff Scientist, National Wildlife Federation
To formulate Louisiana’s 2012 Coastal Master Plan, coastal authorities evaluated nearly 250 restoration projects that had been proposed in previous parish- and state-level restoration plans. This number was then narrowed down by setting a realistically achievable budget, modeling for future environmental conditions and understanding how the implementation of individual projects could help sustain or build land over the next 50 years. Projects included in the Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) Comprehensive Study were among those considered for inclusion in the master plan, and many of these projects – or similar versions of them – were included in the 2012 Coastal Master Plan. By incorporating these projects in the long-term vision of restoration for coastal Louisiana, these projects will be better integrated with others in the master plan. Additionally, inclusion of these LCA projects shows the state’s commitment to their construction and implementation.
The LCA Program was authorized through the 2007 Water Resources Development Act and includes 15 near-term critical restoration projects. As part of the LCA Program, the state of Louisiana and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers work together to plan and implement these 15 projects. To date, construction has not begun on any of these projects, and as they near the construction phase, the lack of federal funding in the immediate future threatens to delays them indefinitely. That is, until Congress passed the RESTORE Act in June. Signed into law just last week, the RESTORE Act will ensure that 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines BP and other responsible parties will pay as a result of the 2010 gulf oil spill are dedicated to environmental restoration in the gulf states. In Louisiana, this money will be used to help fund the restoration projects outlined in the master plan.
Of the 15 LCA projects, nine were included in the 2012 Coastal Master Plan. But in many cases, the project selected and described in the master plan is a modified version of the original LCA project. This is a result of the analysis conducted in the planning process that indicated that modifications to the project would increase the land it built or maintained. However, it should be noted that the projects described in the master plan are still conceptual, as their exact size and location will be determined through further planning and design. Below is a list of the LCA projects and a brief description of the corresponding project included in the master plan.
The extensive analysis that went into formulating the master plan indicates that the capacity of several of the LCA sediment diversions may need to be scaled up in order to maximize the amount of land they can build and sustain. By including so many LCA projects in the plan, coastal authorities reaffirmed the importance of these critical projects to restoring the coastal Louisiana landscape. Moving away from smaller restoration projects toward larger ecosystem-scale projects will help restore the natural hydrology and mimic the processes that built the Mississippi River Delta, thus creating a more sustainable coastline for the people who call the region home.No Comments
By Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund
The Myrtle Grove sediment diversion is a linchpin of Louisiana's groundbreaking plan to restore the coast and repair damage inflicted by the BP oil disaster. However, the State and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are considering permits for the construction of a massive coal export terminal right next to this critical restoration project. Allowing these permits to proceed could stop the Myrtle Grove project in its tracks.
RAM Terminal, LLC has recently applied for permission to locate a coal export facility immediately adjacent to the location of the Myrtle Grove sediment diversion. The proposed facility will likely have a significant impact on the water and sediment flow in the river — and would therefore impact the Myrtle Grove sediment diversion’s ability to restore the surrounding wetlands and marshes.
For a state that has lost nearly 2,000 square miles of wetlands and barrier islands, Myrtle Grove represents one of the best opportunities to build and sustain our coast. By harnessing the river’s water and sediment, Myrtle Grove can sustain coastal communities and ecosystems for decades to come. Allowing the RAM coal export facility to proceed without demonstrating that it will not have a negative effect on Myrtle Grove would set a dangerous precedent. As the Coastal Master Plan moves through the State Legislature, Louisiana and the Army Corps must make restoration a top priority.
The public has been invited to comment on the project, but the deadline is close of business today!
Louisiana residents: Please take action and tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and State of Louisiana to demand proof that this coal export facility will not interfere with plans to restore our coast.
Environmental Defense Fund: Take Action: Put Louisiana's Coast over Big Coal
National Wildlife Federation: Defend Habitat Restoration for Brown Pelicans
Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost almost 2,000 square miles of coastal wetlands and barrier islands. Not only are these vital for species such as the brown pelican, they provide critical hurricane protections for Louisiana’s coastal residents. Louisiana's 2012 Coastal Master Plan estimates that restoration projects like the one at Myrtle Grove will create as many as 800 square miles of new healthy coastal habitats for pelicans and other wildlife over the next 50 years.
Take action and tell the State of Louisiana and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that restoring the coast is a national priority and should not be blocked due to a new coal facility.
Unshackling the Mighty Mississippi: New Video Shows How Working With Nature—Not Against It—Can Build New Land at Myrtle GroveAugust 2, 2011 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in Myrtle Grove Sediment Diversion, Restoration Projects, Videos
By Amanda Moore (National Wildlife Federation) and Brian Jackson (Environmental Defense Fund)
The Mississippi River built 7,000 square miles of beautiful, rich deltaic wetlands, but over the last century, the natural land-building processes that constructed that land have been largely shut off. Flipping that land-building switch back on is crucial for success in restoring the Mississippi River Delta and the communities, wildlife and economies that depend on it.
A critical project that will build land and jumpstart restoration is the Myrtle Grove Sediment Diversion. Myrtle Grove is a top priority for our coalition among the various proposed restoration project because it will be precedent-setting in its design and operation, scientific rigor, and outreach to interested stakeholders.
The short video below doesn't include any Trapper Joe cameos, but we still want you to take a few minutes to learn more about the Myrtle Grove Sediment Diversion and how it will replicate natural land building functions already occurring and seen elsewhere in the delta.
The first video in this series, "Mending the Marsh: Local Support for Myrtle Grove," can be viewed here.2 Comments
By Maura Wood, National Wildlife Federation
To kick coastal restoration into high gear and to create a sustainable coast, reconnecting the river to the marsh in a controlled way and allowing the delivery of sediment is key. Sediment deposited through marsh-building diversions will build an ever-expanding platform which, as it grows, will become vegetated. This vegetation will trap more sediment, leading to even more land growth. This mimics the natural processes that built our coast and offers hope of creating a sustainable coastal area that can hold its own in the face of sea level rise and other stressors.
Still, there is doubt among the public about whether diversions can really build land, much of which is based on experience with two existing diversions: Caernarvon and Davis Pond. What is lost in much of the discussion is that these structures were not intended to be "marsh-building" diversions. They were built and intended as "freshwater" diversions, designed to impact salinities in the estuaries east and west of the Mississippi River.
Now we have an opportunity with the Myrtle Grove Medium Diversion and Dedicated Dredging Project to consider how to design and construct a marsh-building diversion that takes maximum advantage of the sediment and water in the river to build land. A new film, "Mending the Marsh: Local Support for Myrtle Grove", examines the Myrtle Grove project and its associated opportunities and challenges. This video is part of a series that will illuminate the promise of marsh-building diversions as critical components of a sustainable coast.
So pop some popcorn and enjoy as Ryan Lambert and Foster Creppel lead you on an exploration of the marsh-building potential of the Myrtle Grove diversion.No Comments
By Maura Wood, National Wildlife Federation
The Myrtle Grove Medium Diversion is one of five highest priority near-term Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) restoration projects authorized by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. It is also one of a handful of projects authorized with the express authority to make changes in the project to respond to the impacts of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This opens the opportunity to modify Myrtle Grove to divert sediment and build land.
In order to examine modifications and how they might improve (or not) the benefits and impacts of the project, the Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration (OCPR) and several non-profit conservation organizations entered into a unique collaboration to undertake an extensive data-gathering and modeling initiative. The purpose of the modeling was to bring the best science and modeling into the planning process, to modify the diversion to capture sediment and build land, and to answer stakeholder questions.
A body of results from this effort was released on June 7 at a science workshop organized by the National Wildlife Federation and OCPR titled “Developing a Scientific Approach for Sediment Diversions: Myrtle Grove as a Model of Data Collection, Modeling, and Design." Eighty-seven people, including scientists, academics and agency representatives, NGOs, contracting firms and stakeholders, participated in the session.
Results include new information on the bathymetry and hydrodynamics of the specific reach of the Mississippi River, projection of sediment loading potential through a modified Myrtle Grove diversion at different discharge capacities, and analysis of hydrodynamic and salinity changes that could be expected under different discharge and operational regimes.
Presentations and other papers on the modeling are available at ftp://ftp.dnr.state.la.us/lcamyrtlegrove until July 4.2 Comments
By Maura Wood, National Wildlife Federation
Last week, members of the public were invited to attend and participate in a series of scoping meetings about the proposed Myrtle Grove Diversion in southern Louisiana. The three public meetings officially launched the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)/Feasibility Study for the Myrtle Grove Diversion. Ensuring that Myrtle Grove is constructed as a land-building, pulsed, sediment diversion is a key element of our coalition's coastal restoration campaign. Scoping meetings allow stakeholders the opportunity to give input about the potential impacts the project.
Myrtle Grove is one of 15 coastal restoration projects authorized by Congress in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. It was authorized as a medium diversion with dedicated dredging under a program called the Louisiana Coastal Area Study. Our partnership has worked with state officials to gather data and model scenarios of a “modified” Myrtle Grove, which functions as a sediment diversion and employs pulsing to make maximum use of the river's sediment for land building.
At the meetings, members of the public requested that the EIS examine impacts to fisheries and to local communities that might be flooded by water from a diversion. At the same time, many speakers firmly stated the need to get sediment into deteriorating basins and recognized that local conditions would change and some uses would move within the estuary.
One frequent suggestion already has been adopted: the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has promised to meet with stakeholders on a regular basis during the EIS process. These meetings will enable information to flow back and forth between the Corps and the public and bring engineering expertise together with intimate local knowledge of the area. NWF will play a role in convening these quarterly meetings.No Comments