The Board of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) held its monthly meeting in Belle Chasse in Plaquemines Parish and used the opportunity to spotlight billions of dollars in projects in the Southeast Louisiana region, and to report on innovative funding ideas being pursued to enable more Coastal Master Plan projects to get underway.
“We have nearly $1.2 billion in projects in Southeast Louisiana that have been completed, are now in construction, or are working towards construction—and that’s not even counting the sediment diversions CPRA is planning,” said CPRA Board Chairman Johnny Bradberry as he introduced John Troutman, CPRA’s Operations Manager for the New Orleans region, who gave a detailed presentation on those projects.
Projects in construction, Troutman reported, include the Hydrologic Restoration in the Des Allemands Swamp, the Bayou Dupont Marsh Creation project #3 south of Belle Chasse, the Lake Lery Shoreline and Marsh Restoration near Delacroix, the Bayou Bonfouca Marsh Creation between Lacombe and Slidell, and the barrier island restorations of Shell Island and Chenier Ronquille off the coast of Plaquemines Parish, projects totaling almost $224 million.
“In addition, we are in the engineering and design phase for 10 projects totaling approximately $291 million in funding through CWPPRA, the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act,” said Troutman. “These are mainly marsh creation and restoration projects needed to restore or maintain the natural buffer that protects us against storm surge, and preserves our important fisheries ecosystem.”
Troutman then reported on projects being funded with more than $657 million of post-BP oil spill money from the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) and the RESTORE Act.
“Approximately $282.5 million in NRDA funds are being used to restore Queen Bess Island north of Grand Isle, create marsh habitat along Spanish Pass near Venice, and restore the lake rim and marsh along the south shoreline of Lake Borgne,” said Troutman. “Approximately $374.8 million in RESTORE funds are going towards West Grand Terre Beach Nourishment and Stabilization, River Reintroduction in to Maurepas Swamp, Golden Triangle Marsh Creation, and the Biloxi Marsh Living Shoreline.”
Mid-Barataria & Mid-Breton Sediment Diversions
CPRA Operations Assistant Administrator Brad Barth provided an update on the Mississippi River Sediment Diversion Program which includes the Mid-Barataria and Mid-Breton Sediment Diversions.
“More than 300 people attended three public scoping meetings hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this summer for the Mid-Barataria project,” said Barth, “and that generated more than 800 formal public comments.”
Gulf Engineers and Consultants, a third party contractor, will work with the Corps of Engineers to synthesize these comments, and a draft Environmental Impact Statement is anticipated to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2018.
For the Mid-Breton Sediment Diversion on the east bank, Barth said that progress has been made in identifying a potential location near Wills Point. The exact proposed location will be finalized during the engineering and design phase of this project. “The procurement package for engineering and design was released earlier this month,” said Barth,” and we anticipate a team will be selected next February.”
NRD Banking Up and Running
Louisiana has a new banking program that will incentivize private investment in Coastal Master Plan projects. “The Restoration Banking Program is open for business, and entities can submit their prospectus to CPRA for review,” governor’s office attorney Megan Terrell told the board.
The program concept enables a private entity to sell restoration credits to responsible parties to mitigate for natural resource damages liability resulting from certain oil spills under the Oil Pollution Act that occur in Louisiana coastal waters.