(NEW ORLEANS — Dec. 20, 2022) Yesterday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) signed the Record of Decision approving permits for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion. Backed by decades of innovative scientific modeling, the decision is a pivotal moment for the state, marking a major victory in the fight to address the state’s land loss and erosion crisis.
The project will be a $2.3 billion investment that builds on the state’s existing restoration efforts to preserve its local ecosystems and leverage the use of natural solutions to build on and strengthen acres of wetlands in the Barataria Basin. As the largest individual restoration project in history, Environmental Defense Fund is excited about the new economic benefits that this will bring to the region. These projects will create and support thousands of jobs and provide real economic opportunities for businesses and jobs for Louisiana residents. The diversion will be adaptively managed to ensure effective operations of the sediment diversion to achieve a bountiful and productive delta.
These official permits represent the hard work of several environmental organizations, state leaders and advocates. With this greenlight to move forward, the diversion will play a critical role in protecting vulnerable communities from hurricanes and damaging storm surge by reconnecting the Mississippi River to coastal wetlands, sustaining the health of the ecosystem and building a more resilient coast for people and nature.
"The Mississippi River has built its delta in coastal Louisiana over the last 7000 years by distributing its sand, silt and clay sediments during high flow periods," said Jim Tripp, a retired EDF lawyer, who has been working on Louisiana’s coastal crisis since the 1970s. "The massive flood control and navigation levees of the river have largely disrupted these natural processes. Combatting land loss and restoring the delta building processes requires re-establishing the historic sediment distribution functions of the river. That is what the Mid-Barataria Basin Sediment Diversion, the first major sediment diversion, is designed to do. After decades of planning, we are on the cusp of creating a better future for coastal Louisiana."
“We commend the State of Louisiana and the Corps in an almost unprecedented scientific effort to understand and disclose the benefits and impacts of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion," said Natalie Snider, associate vice president of Climate Resilient Coasts and Watersheds at EDF. "Re-establishing the natural processes of the river is essential to the future of Louisiana’s ecosystems and communities fighting the impacts of climate change.”
“A major milestone has been achieved for Louisiana," said Cathleen Berthelot, director of federal affairs, coastal and flood resilience at EDF. "State leaders and members of the Corps have recognized the significant economic and environmental impacts that the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion will have on the delta.”
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