Steve Cochran to U.S. Senate Committee: Enhance Investments in Our Critical Natural Infrastructure

01.10.2018 | In Funding & Policy
By Elizabeth Van Cleve, Communications Manager, Ecosystems, Environmental Defense Fund

Steve Cochran speaking at the Senate EPW hearing on Jan. 10, 2018.

Earlier today, Steve Cochran, director of Restore the Mississippi River Delta, testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee as part of its hearing on reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), titled “America’s Water Infrastructure Needs and Challenges.” Jump to minute 56 to hear Steve's testimony.

In his testimony, Cochran highlighted the urgency of coastal restoration and protection efforts underway in Louisiana, and the opportunities that exist to further invest in natural infrastructure to reduce flooding risks for coastal communities and vital economic infrastructure.

“Through our work in coastal Louisiana, and through our national organizations’ experiences in coastal areas around the country, we have gained knowledge and experience around coastal restoration and protection, and particularly around the synergies between natural infrastructure and built infrastructure that, when properly paired, can work for optimal delivery of the Corps’ multiple missions of navigation, flood control, and restoration,” Steve said in his testimony. “We are committed to helping communities find, fund, and implement means to shape their futures as they work to avoid being at the mercy of the next storm or flood. And we urge the Committee to enhance investments in our critical natural infrastructure as a better-integrated strategic component in that effort.”

He highlighted the large-scale coastal restoration and protection efforts Louisiana is undertaking through implementation of its Coastal Master Plan, including the use of sediment diversions – large-scale projects that use the natural land-building power of the Mississippi River to build and sustain land.

“One key component in the integrated strategy for coastal Louisiana is a series of sediment diversions that are the absolute key to sustainable restoration along the Louisiana coast. These control structures will be built into the Mississippi River levee and used to capture and divert the natural land-building abilities of the Mississippi River, to recreate a managed flow of fresh water and sediment to rebuild and sustain functioning wetland habitat that is currently being lost at an alarming rate. These restored wetlands in turn help to protect coastal infrastructure and assets, including the Mississippi River levees themselves, ports, and coastal communities. Large-scale sediment diversions will be used in strategic places along the Mississippi River, starting with the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion south of New Orleans.”

The recording of the hearing and the full list of panelists can be found on the Senate EPW Committee’s website.