$28.3M wetland restoration project to use sediment mined from Mississippi River

April 14, 2009
Governor Bobby Jindal announced a $28.3 million wetland restoration project to build and restore nearly 500 acres of marsh in Lower Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes by using sediment mined from the Mississippi River...

BELLE CHASSE, LA, Apr. 14, 2009 -- Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced a $28.3 million wetland restoration project to build and restore nearly 500 acres of marsh in Lower Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes by using sediment mined from the Mississippi River. Officially known as The Mississippi River Sediment Delivery System at Bayou Dupont, Governor Jindal said this is the first project in state history that is specifically designed to mine sediments from the Mississippi River and transport them via pipeline to build marsh. Governor Jindal emphasized the importance of using dredged material to restore Louisiana's coasts.

Governor Jindal said, "The Bayou Dupont Project breaks new ground for coastal restoration in our state because it is the first time we have carried out a project to transport sediments from the Mississippi River through a pipeline to build wetlands outside the river's levees.

"This project is a great example of the ways the state and Environmental Protection Agency are pushing to use available sediments in the Mississippi River to build land rather than dredging them and dumping them in a wasteful way. The path forward in rebuilding our coast is capturing and using sediment transported in our waterways to rebuild and strengthen our coasts."

The Governor said the dredge material will be taken to two sites more than five miles away to wetlands in the Upper Barataria Basin in Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes on what is called the Barataria Landbridge. The wetlands being restored have been decimated by hurricanes and saltwater intrusion.

Governor Jindal said past projects of this nature used sediments dredged from open water areas in Barataria Bay. The Governor noted that this project actually brings new river sediment to the area - instead of wasting the resource. The Bayou Dupont project mines sediment from the river and pumps it directly to the restoration area, which is a more efficient restoration process.

Coastal Protection and Restoration Chairman Garret Graves said, "While the levees on the Mississippi River accomplished their goal of preventing flooding and stabilizing the navigation channel that so many states rely upon, they also cut off the river sediment from nourishing and restoring our wetlands. This project takes the land-building process we learned from Mother Nature and does it much more efficiently."

The $28.3 million project will be built using federal and state funds from the Coastal Wetlands Planning Protection and Restoration Act program (CWPPRA) with project oversight from the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Governor said the state is paying 15 percent of the cost - a total of $4.24 million - and the funds are coming from the state's coastal trust fund.

Governor Jindal said the contract for this project was awarded in February and work has already begun to start building the infrastructure and laying the pipeline. He said marsh reconstruction is scheduled to begin this summer.

In total, Governor Jindal noted that the pipeline will transport approximately 2.3 million cubic yards of sediment from the Mississippi River to complete the project. After all the material is transported, he said native vegetation will be planted on the new marsh.

Governor Jindal said a unique aspect of this project is that a portion of the pipeline infrastructure will remain in place after the project is complete so that it can be used again to build future projects. The area of the river where the sediments will be dredged was picked specifically because it will fill up with sediments again.

The Governor said the new sediments can be transported via pipeline again to build additional marsh areas in Plaquemines, Jefferson and possibly even further west.

The Governor noted that every year the Army Corps of Engineers removes about 60 million cubic yards of sediment from Louisiana navigation channels like the Mississippi River. Specifically, the Mississippi River system transports up to 200 million tons of sediment every year. However, Governor Jindal said only a fraction of the sediment is ever used to rebuild land.

Governor Jindal said, "This has to stop. Our soil and sediment is not waste. This is the same material that actually created the river delta that is Louisiana today. If it is taken from our waterways, it needs to be used to build land in our state to restore healthy marshes and protect our coastal communities."

In fact, if all the available sediment dredged from our waterways was used beneficially, the Governor said more than 18 square miles of land per year could be built in Louisiana - which would cut the state's land loss rate by two-thirds.

Governor Jindal said the state understands the importance of beneficially using dredge material and that's why the Bayou Dupont Project is one of many across the state that is using dredge material to rebuild Louisiana's coasts.

In February, the Governor announced that the state, the Port of Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish signed an agreement to begin the largest state-local beneficial use of dredge material project in Louisiana to rebuild wetlands in Southwest Louisiana. For that project, the state is dedicating nearly $20 million from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Fund to projects that will build an estimated 670 acres of marsh in Southwest Louisiana using sediment dredged from the Calcasieu Ship Channel.

Governor Jindal said the state is going to continue to find ways that we can use dredged material to restore Louisiana's coasts.

Currently, the Governor said the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the Department of Natural Resources are working on improving regulations and practices of beneficially using dredged materials from all coastal use projects where sediments are dredged and removed.

In addition, Governor Jindal said the state is aggressively working with the Corps of Engineers to utilize the maximum amount of the nearly 60 million cubic yards of sediments dredged annually in federally authorized waterways to build land to restore and protect coastal communities and marshes.

Governor Jindal also highlighted several other coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects currently underway or scheduled to begin in the coming months in Plaquemines Parish.

The Governor said nearly $2 billion is being spent by federal and state entities to build better hurricane protection in Plaquemines Parish. Northern parts of the parish will be protected as part of the West Bank and Vicinity Hurricane Protection System and the Corps of Engineers is working to restore the New Orleans to Venice protection levees to their pre-Katrina levels.

Governor Jindal also said there is a $43 million project being paid for with state and federal money to rebuild beach and marsh using dredged material near Pass Chaland in Plaquemines Parish. The Governor said about 190 acres of marsh and another 180 acres of beach are being created currently using dredged materials from the Gulf. The project is scheduled for completion early this summer.

Finally, Governor Jindal said there is a $31 million marsh and beach nourishment project at East Grand Terre Island. Of the $31 million total, $25 million will come from state surplus and state CIAP funds with the balance of $6 million being contributed by Plaquemines Parish from their CIAP funds. Construction will begin this summer.

Governor Jindal concluded by recognizing Conoco Phillips Alliance Refinery, River Rest and private landowners who he said have worked hand-in-hand with state and federal coastal project managers to make this project a reality.

Governor Jindal said "Conoco Phillips, River Rest and other private landowners have embraced this project and allowed the pipeline to be laid across their lands without the state having to purchase the property - showing what can be accomplished when we all work together to rebuild and protect out coasts."

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.