Archive for Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion


Diversions Expert Panel engages scientific community for second public meeting

May 1, 2014 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, Diversions, Meetings/Events, Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, Restoration Projects, Science

By Erin Greeson (National Audubon Society) and Alisha Renfro (National Wildlife Federation)

While there is no question that large-scale action is urgently needed to add address Louisiana’s land loss crisis, some questions surround the scientific solutions necessary to address this challenge. As the state of Louisiana advances its Coastal Master Plan and the comprehensive set of restoration projects within it, experts have opened discussion to scientists and interested members of the public to provide information, share science and encourage dialogue.

This week in New Orleans, the Expert Panel on Diversion Planning and Implementation had their second meeting, which offered an opportunity to reconvene for updates and discussion on sediment diversions – one of the key tools in Louisiana’s coastal restoration toolbox. In addition to addressing environmental concerns, the panel addressed social and economic questions about river diversions and the communities they will impact.

Sediment-starved-sediment-wasted-CPRA

At the start of the meeting, Mr. King Milling, Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Coastal Protection, Restoration and Conservation, delivered a powerful reminder of Louisiana’s disappearing coast:

“Demise of this delta would be an environmental impact of international proportions: disaster for economy, culture, communities – all the things we do and live for in the delta. If we don’t proceed urgently, we will lose the delta. Nothing will stop this damage if we don’t proceed in an orderly fashion with large-scale, comprehensive solutions. This is not a time for debate. Our role is to address the issue of remarkable deterioration, and the state’s diversion committee will be addressing issues and conflicts. Its position is to focus on the larger picture of how we can preserve as much as we can, and how can we create a system that will protect as much as we can.”

2012-Master-Plan-Coastwide1

The first day of the meeting was open to the public, and the agenda reflected many of the areas of focus that require follow-up from the panel’s first meeting. Presentations from the Army Corps of Engineers, The Water Institute of the Gulf and Biedenharn Group focused on the Hydrodynamic Study, which is collecting data in the river and using models to represent conditions in the river as it is today, predicting what the river will be like in the future without diversion projects and how the construction and operation of diversion projects change the river compared to the future without the diversions. They also briefly discussed the Mississippi River Delta Management Study, expected to begin soon, which will focus on the basin-side effects of diversions and evaluate combinations of diversion projects that maximize the number of acres of wetlands built or sustained over time.

Presentations from David Lindquist from the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) summarized the current state of knowledge on fisheries and wildlife response to existing freshwater diversions. Craig Colten, Ph.D. from the Water Institute of the Gulf highlighted the importance of considering the influences of restoration projects on communities.

A presentation from Micaela Coner and Bob Beduhn narrowed the discussion down to the engineering and design considerations of a single project – the Mid-Barataria Diversion. Ms. Coner, CPRA, discussed the Mid-Barataria sediment diversion project within the context of the 109 Coastal Master Plan projects. Speaking to the plan’s theme of reconnecting the river with its estuaries, she described sediment diversions as the best opportunity to build, maintain and sustain land.

Dr. Robert Twilley, Louisiana State University

Dr. Robert Twilley

Dr. Robert Twilley, Louisiana State University, described how the river once built natural resource wealth: “Natural resource economies and the flooding of the river once coexisted. The wealth of fisheries, and the wealth of the river building wetlands, once coexisted. Today, there’s a conflict. Historically, the river built land during big flood events. Nature had this figured out. We’re forcing a conflict. There is a resolution to this.”

During the closing portion of the meeting, attendees had opportunities to provide comments to the Expert Panel. Mississippi River Delta Restoration Coalition leaders were among the conversation.

David Muth

David Muth, NWF

David Muth of the National Wildlife Federation urged the panel to consider the historical context of the river in addressing site-specific questions about diversions: “We have glimpses from historical record about how productive this system once was. But for the past 300 years, we have been choking off that system.”

John Lopez of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation described the coastal land loss crisis in powerful terms and underscored for a sense of urgency: “This house is on fire. Lives are at risk. We have a great scientific challenge, but we don’t have time to delay.”

More background on the Expert Panel:

During its first meeting in January, the Expert Panel was asked to focus on the topics of uncertainty – underlying natural variability and limitations in knowledge – they perceived surrounding the design and operation of major freshwater and sediment diversions. A report summarizing their findings and recommendations from that first meeting was released in February.

In this report the panel focused on identifying six areas that should be answered or considered as sediment diversions move further from idea into planning, engineering and design:

  1. Data collection is important for understanding the system as it is today and for evaluating performance of individual diversion projects.
  2. A controlled sediment diversion does not currently exist, but some information needed to understand the time scales and extent of land building that could be expected from a controlled sediment diversion can be gleaned from natural crevasses.
  3. The response of plant, fish and wildlife communities to the operation of sediment diversions should be incorporated into modeling of different scenarios, both capacity and operation, of a diversion.
  4. The potential social and economic influences of a diversion project need to be considered to minimize any potential negative impacts that can be foreseen.
  5. Planning and design of diversion projects need to be explored under present day and possible future conditions (e.g. sea level rise, changes in precipitation) to maximize project success in the very near and long-term future.
  6. Communications between planners and stakeholders to discuss the realities and limitations of any predictions is essential for project success.
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National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Announces Nearly $68 Million for Louisiana Restoration Projects

November 14, 2013 | Posted by Ryan Rastegar in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, Media Resources, Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, Restoration Projects

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Erin Greeson, National Audubon Society, 503.913.8978, egreeson@audubon.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, eskree@edf.org

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Announces Nearly $68 Million for Louisiana Restoration Projects

$40.4 million dedicated to Mid-Barataria Diversion, a critical project to comprehensive coastal restoration

(New Orleans, LA – November 14, 2013) Today, leading national and local conservation and restoration organizations – Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – released the following joint statement:

“We applaud the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in partnership with Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, for dedicating $67.9 million to seven key barrier island and river diversion projects, including $40.4 million for the Mid-Barataria Diversion project. The Barataria Basin has one of the highest rates of land loss in the world, and this large-scale wetland restoration project is crucial to reversing that trend.

“The mid-sized Mid-Barataria sediment diversion is a key component of Louisiana’s 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast. The master plan is a blueprint for restoring the Mississippi River Delta and Louisiana’s coast and contains a suite of coastal restoration and protection projects. Our organizations support the full suite of restoration projects in that plan, of which the Mid-Barataria Diversion is a critical piece.

“Restoration of Louisiana’s disappearing wetlands is important not only to Louisiana but to the entire nation. Louisiana’s wetlands and waters provide one-third of the nation’s seafood, are a stopover point for migratory birds traveling the Mississippi Flyway and provide critical wildlife habitat. Projects like the Mid-Barataria Diversion can help revive Louisiana’s coastal wetlands – part of America’s largest delta – to a productive, functioning state, which provides important ecological and economic opportunities for people and wildlife. We look forward to continued work with both the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the State of Louisiana to implement the Mid-Barataria sediment diversion on its current timeline of being ready for construction in 2015.”

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Conservation Groups Respond to Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion Environmental Impact Statement Launch

October 8, 2013 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in Media Resources, Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS: Erin Greeson, National Audubon Society, 503.913.8978, egreeson@audubon.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, eskree@edf.org

Conservation Groups Respond to Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion Environmental Impact Statement Launch

Corps’ intention to conduct EIS seen as crucial step forward

(New Orleans, LA – October 8, 2013) Today, a coalition of leading national and local conservation and restoration organizations – Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation– released the following joint statement:

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced in last Friday’s Federal Register their intention to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion. The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion will be the first major controlled sediment diversion reconnecting the Mississippi River with its delta. It is a cornerstone of the state’s master plan for sustaining our coast.

"The Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign believes that launching the Environmental Impact Statement is an important step forward for the project. Given the urgency of restoring and sustaining our coast, a thorough and rigorous Draft Environmental Impact Statement should be completed by fall of 2014, with final review and permits issued by spring of 2015. We look forward to collaborating with the Corps and its state and federal partners to achieve this exciting and crucial 2015 construction goal. Our coast can’t wait. It's time to get together and get it done.”

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The Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Comprised of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, we are located in Houma, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. See more at www.mississippiriverdelta.org.

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Conservation Groups Issue Statement on New Timeline for Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion

September 20, 2013 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in Media Resources, Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACTS: Erin Greeson, National Audubon Society, 503.913.8978, egreeson@audubon.org
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781, schatzele@nwf.org
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543, eskree@edf.org

Conservation Groups Issue Statement on New Timeline for Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion

 (New Orleans, LA – September 20, 2013) Today, leading national and local conservation and restoration organizations Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation released the following joint statement:

“The Mississippi River Delta Restoration Campaign commends the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) for adopting an ambitious timeline for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion. Announced at the Authority's monthly meeting in New Orleans on September 18, the state plans to complete environmental review, engineering and design documents, and permit applications and submit them to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by Spring 2015. Construction could begin later that year.

“The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion is the first major controlled sediment diversion reconnecting the Mississippi River with its delta. It is a cornerstone of the state’s master plan for sustaining our coast. CPRA’s timeline matches the urgency of our coastal land loss crisis. Funding from BP oil spill settlements makes this schedule altogether feasible.

“We know that the Army Corps of Engineers and the other federal resource agencies consider this project to be a national ecosystem restoration priority and will do everything possible to work with the State to make this schedule a reality. We look forward to collaborating with the State and its federal partners to achieve this exciting and crucial 2015 construction goal. Our coast can’t wait. It's time to get together and get it done.”

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The Next 50 Years: Louisiana Coastal Area projects in the master plan

July 12, 2012 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Coastal Master Plan series, Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA), Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, Restoration Projects, Whites Ditch

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.

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Take action: Help protect Louisiana's coast

May 15, 2012 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in 2012 Coastal Master Plan, Army Corps of Engineers, BP Oil Disaster, Diversions, Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, Restoration Projects

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.

Action alerts:

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.

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Unshackling the Mighty Mississippi: New Video Shows How Working With Nature—Not Against It—Can Build New Land at Myrtle Grove

August 2, 2011 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in Mid-Barataria 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.

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New Video Builds Local Support for Myrtle Grove Diversion

July 15, 2011 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, Restoration Projects

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.

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Myrtle Grove Diversion Modeling Reveals New Information on Land-building Potential

June 15, 2011 | Posted by Elizabeth Skree in Meetings/Events, Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, Restoration Projects

By Maura Wood, National Wildlife Federation

Barataria Basin Finite Element Grid, Moffatt & Nichol

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.

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Public Scoping Meetings Held for Myrtle Grove Diversion

December 1, 2010 | Posted by Delta Dispatches in Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA), Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, Restoration Projects, Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

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.

Photo credit: National Wildlife Federation

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.

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