One of the biggest marsh restoration projects proposed in Louisiana’s 50-year, $50 billion coastal master plan will be up for discussion at six public meetings in the next three weeks. The Mid-Barataria sediment diversion project, planned for the West Bank at Myrtle Grove, is aimed at restoring marshlands by diverting sediment through the Mississippi River levee into Barataria Bay.
The $1 billion project has strong advocates in state government and environmental groups. But it could have significant effects on the bay’s oyster growers, shrimpers and wildlife.
The Army Corps of Engineers is hosting public meetings on the project on July 20 in Jean Lafitte, July 25 in Belle Chasse and July 27 in Port Sulphur, and will take written comments through Sept. 5. Corps permits are needed to build and operate the diversion.
Groups backing the diversion are hosting their own meetings to rally support before the corps meetings. Restore the Mississippi River Delta, a coalition of environmental groups, and the Environmental Law Institute have meetings set Tuesday night (July 11) in New Orleans, Wednesday in Belle Chasse, and July 13 in Westwego. The meetings start at 6 p.m.
Restore the Mississippi River Delta calls the diversion “one of the most important restoration projects in the coastal master plan.” The diversion is expected to transform the Mississippi Delta’s west side, making it function more like the largely un-leveed east side, where marsh plants and wildlife are more abundant. On the leveed west side, marshlands are rapidly converting to shallow open water.
The diversion has been discussed for decades. It wasn’t until the legal settlement from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster that enough money was allocated.
Diversion opponents worry that the added river silt and fresh water in Barataria Bay will harm the oyster and shrimping industries. The corps has cited concerns about the bay’s bottlenose dolphins, which are still recovering from the BP disaster.
A recent study by a scientists known as the Sediment Diversion Operations Expert Working Group says a balance could be struck with a slow, measured approach that that weighs land-building goals against the impacts on fisheries and wildlife.
Restore the Mississippi River Delta meetings
- July 11: First Grace United Methodist Church, 3401 Canal St., New Orleans, 6-7:30 p.m.
- July 12: Belle Chasse Library, 8442 LA-23, Belle Chasse, 6-7:30 p.m.
- July 13: Knights of Columbus Hall, 465 Avenue B, Westwego, 6-7:30 p.m.
For information, contact Helen Rose Patterson, email@example.com or 504.264.6866.
Army Corps of Engineers meetings
- July 20: Leo Kerner City Park Multipurpose Complex, 235 City Park Drive, Jean Lafitte, 5-8 p.m.
- July 25: Belle Chasse Auditorium, 8398 Louisiana 23, 5-8 p.m.
- July 27: Port Sulphur Community Center, 278 Civic Drive, 5-8 p.m.
Written comments may be emailed to CEMVN-Midbarataria@usace.army.mil
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