Building Land in Coastal Louisiana:

Expert Recommendations for Operating a Successful Sediment Diversion that Balances Ecosystem and Community Needs

Sediment diversions have been recognized for decades as critical coastal restoration projects, and they have been included as a principle element of Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan. Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is currently advancing two sediment diversions south of New Orleans for construction in 2020. These diversions are crucial investments in the state’s future as they will build and help maintain tens of thousands of acres of land over time and help support other restoration projects needed to protect communities, wildlife and industries across southeastern Louisiana.

Diversion Operations Expert Working Group:

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in coordination with Restore the Mississippi River Delta coalition partners, formed a Sediment Diversion Operations Expert Working Group to discuss and advance the latest science regarding how to maximize land-building through a sediment diversion while considering other effects. The group, comprised of 12 leading scientists with decades of experience working in coastal Louisiana, developed and shared operational recommendations with CPRA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), other state and federal agencies, the larger scientific community, and communities and businesses with a stake in the operation of diversions. The group, along with 42 guest experts, participated in monthly meetings to provide information and recommendations based on experience and knowledge in their respective fields. They examined a variety of topics related to diversion operations, including:

  • River Hydrodynamics and Sediment Loads
  • Basin Geology and Land-Building
  • Water Quality
  • Wetland Health
  • Fish and Wildlife
  • Communities, User Groups and Socio-Economic Effects
  • Operation Strategies
  • Governance, Legal and Stakeholder Involvement

The working group used the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion as a case study to examine the above factors, with the assumption that a large-scale 50,000 to 75,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) diversion will be constructed into Barataria Basin. The working group selected the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion as a case study because it is furthest along in the Engineering & Design process.

For more information, please contact Natalie Peyronnin.