One of the most expensive, ambitious and controversial proposals in Louisiana’s 50-year, $50 billion bid to save the southern third of the state from disappearing like a modern-day Atlantis passed a major milestone Thursday night with the release of a mostly positive assessment from the Army Corps of Engineers. Four years in the making, the Corps’ draft environmental impact statement found that the benefits of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion – chiefly, creating and sustaining 28 square miles of marshes in the rapidly eroding Barataria Basin – more than outweigh the attendant disruption to oyster, brown shrimp and saltwater fisheries, and to bottlenose dolphins.

This project started to just restore the natural sediment from the Mississippi River that formed the Louisiana Delta for ages It evolved to use this sediment to repair the damage caused by Deepwater Horizon. The $2 billion cost is being paid by that fund started to repair the damage caused by that oil spill.

The project calls for gouging a wide hole in the Mississippi River levee in lower Plaquemines Parish and filling it with a concrete structure to channel as much as 75,000 cubic feet of sediment-laden river water per second into the West Bank wetlands. Rebuilding those marshes, badly wounded over time by hurricanes, oil and gas work and the loss of replenishing sediment since the wandering river was leveed more than a century ago, would reduce the height of storm surge across some West Bank communities by as much as one foot, the report concluded. “It is our belief that the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion is the lifeline that our coast needs, it is the shot in the arm that the Barataria Basin needs and it is the only real and sustainable way to build tens of thousands of acres of marsh,” authority chairman Chip Kline said. “It will help protect the overwhelming majority of the citizens in southeast Louisiana, it will help preserve our working coast that we know we have here in south Louisiana and it will undoubtedly help preserve the cultural heritage that exists in southeast Louisiana.” The document also was praised by U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, the coastal authority’s former chairman. “You will never have a sustainable footprint of south Louisiana without fundamental changes to how the Corps of Engineers manages the river system and its sediment by reconnecting some of the distribution channels that used to exist and reestablishing access to fresh water, sediment and nutrients for the adjacent wetlands,” Graves said. “This project represents that kind of fundamental change and puts the basin on a path to a sustainable future.”

A recent controversy raised is what this diversion will do to the salinity of the area especially how it will effect shrimp, fin fish and oysters.

Another article supplementing this topic appeared at the same time:

Environmental Groups Cheer the Release of the Diversion Report

The Louisiana Trustees Implementation Group stated that “This is a real opportunity for the public to put their concerns on the record, force us as the CPRA and force all the various federal agencies that are in this regulatory process to evaluate their concerns in a real and meaningful way,” he said. “We want the public to take a massive swing at some these mitigation measures – what did we get right, what did we get wrong, what can we do better, what can we do more of,.

Mitigation plans are been devised to counter the salinity costs making this entire plan both environmental and economic – which is always the case!

Saving the State
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