Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion Takes Another Step Forward

By Alisha Renfro, Coastal Scientist, Mississippi River Delta Restoration Program, National Wildlife Federation

Did you hear the news?

Last week, while most of us here in Louisiana were working hard to keep warm, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion reached a milestone when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) released the project’s scoping report. This critical restoration project is needed to restore natural delta processes by reconnecting the river to surrounding wetlands and divert sediment, nutrients and fresh water to build new land, maintain existing marshes and increase habitat resiliency to sea level rise and storm events and recovery from the BP oil spill.

What is a scoping report?

Scoping is the first step in developing a project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which helps federal agencies understand and assess the potential effects of a proposed action on the environment. For an overview of the EIS process check out our blog, “Getting Down to Basics: The Environmental Impact Statement Process for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion.” This scoping report presents and summarizes all of the public comments given about the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion Project during last summer’s 60-day comment period.

What did the comments say?

During the scoping process, 871 comments were submitted at public scoping meetings, through emails, comment cards and letters. About 72% of the comments were in support of the project. All submitted comments were reviewed and will be used to inform the scope and development of the EIS. The scoping report grouped comments into these topic areas:

  • Alternatives
  • Public Coordination
  • Project Operations
  • Timeframe/Schedule-Related
  • Adaptive Management and Monitoring
  • Flooding and Storm Risk Reduction
  • Geology and Sediment Transport
  • Wetland Impacts
  • Water and Sediment Quality
  • Protected Species
  • Marine Mammals
  • Commercial Fishing
  • Fish Resource
  • Socioeconomics and Environmental Justice
  • Land-Based Transportation and Public Utilities
  • Navigation
  • Environmental Impact Analysis and Monitoring
  • Cumulative Impacts
  • Other

You can see examples of submitted comments under each of these topics in the scoping report.

What happens now?

A draft EIS for the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion will be developed by the CPRA-selected, third-party firm, GEC, Inc., in coordination with the Corps. While the public comment period for scoping has ended, there will be opportunities for public comments later in this process, including when the draft EIS is released.

The public has clearly demonstrated interested in this restoration project, and our organizations have called on the Corps to maintain transparency and keep the public engaged through regular updates as they develop the EIS. One example of how they can do this is by releasing the project alternatives – the project scenarios they will analyze to move forward – before the draft EIS is released.  

The Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion is an integral project for restoring and maintaining coastal wetlands in the Barataria Basin. Continued public comment and engagement is needed to get this project moving from studies and planning to implementation.

Thank you to everyone who has given comments to date! We will keep you posted on opportunities to get involved in moving this critical restoration project forward.

Where can I learn more?

To stay informed, check out these resources:

Listen to our podcast episode on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion: