|Projects Types in This Basin
The Barataria Basin is one of the nation’s most productive estuaries. The basin is bounded on the north and east sides by man-made levees along the Mississippi River, to the west by Bayou Lafourche and to the south by barrier islands. The ecosystems in the Barataria Basin provide a vital storm surge buffer for communities on the west bank of the river and in Plaquemines Parish.
The basin hosts a variety of coastal habitats, including bottomland hardwood forests, swamps, marshes ranging from fresh to saltwater, bays and barrier islands. The basin also contains the Barataria Preserve, which is the only natural area on the Louisiana coast that is part of the National Park system.
Starved of sediment, habitats throughout the estuary system are collapsing. In the upper basin, cypress trees stand in stagnant waters, too deep for new trees to sprout, while freshwater marshes are converting to floating peat in the absence of a sediment source. The sediment-starved marshes in the mid-basin have all but disintegrated.
The priority projects chosen for this basin include two sediment diversions, Mid-Barataria and Ama, and the rebuilding of a key marsh area in the mid-basin via the Large-scale Barataria Marsh Creation project. The marsh creation will accelerate land building from the diversions, and the diversions will maintain and create a diversity of wetland types over time. These projects can work in concert to protect the upper basin’s freshwater wetlands, enhance storm surge protection and reintroduce annual infusions of fresh water, sediment and nutrients to build land and sustain existing wetlands throughout the basin.
Projects in the Barataria Basin
- Ama Sediment Diversion
The Ama Sediment Diversion will divert sediment, nutrients and fresh water from the Mississippi River to existing wetlands in the upper Barataria Basin and will also likely benefit marsh creation projects further down in the basin. The project will build and sustain wetland forests, fresh marsh and intermediate marsh by increasing sediment input, water flow and nutrients in the basin. Land building by the diversion will likely be accelerated by the presence of the Large-Scale Barataria Marsh Creation and Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion projects. The Ama Sediment Diversion project is still conceptual but will ultimately be constructed near Ama.
- Large-Scale Barataria Marsh Creation
This marsh creation project is located in Barataria Bay near Lafitte. Historically, only a limited hydrological connection existed between the fresher upper basin and the saltier lower basin. Canal networks, erosion and subsidence have severely degraded the natural barriers between the upper and lower basin, exposing freshwater wetlands to saltwater intrusion and increased wave energy. This project will continue to build on its components that are already in place or under construction to strengthen the Barataria Landbridge, such as Bayou Dupont Marsh Creation project, the Long-Distance Sediment Pipeline project, the Northwest Turtle Bay Marsh Creation project and the Barataria Basin Landbridge Shoreline Protection project. Sediment conveyed from the river through a pipeline will be used to build new marsh, nourish existing marsh in the area, help restore historic salinities in the upper basin and provide benefits to the nearby community of Lafitte, by buffering storm surge and tidal flooding.
- Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion
This sediment diversion is located along the west bank of the Mississippi River near Myrtle Grove. The brackish and freshwater wetlands in the influence area are highly degraded due to a combination of saltwater intrusion, decreased fresh water supply, alterations to the natural hydrology of the area and a lack of sediment input. This project will reconnect the river to the influence area 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. Project synergies with marsh creation projects in the influence area of the diversion create the potential for hundreds of acres of restored wetlands to be enhanced by the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion as soon as it is constructed and operated.