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Louisiana Trustees Seek Comments on Proposed Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion

March 05, 2021

The $2 billion project will create tens of thousands of acres of wetlands in coastal Louisiana. Public comment is open through May 4, 2021.

1280x800-la-gulf-spill-restoration-barataria-basin-marsh-islands-new-belt2.png Aerial view of parts of Louisiana's Barataria Basin, where wetlands have disappeared for decades.

The group of agencies charged with restoring Louisiana’s natural resources after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is seeking public input on a draft restoration plan. The plan proposes investing up to $2 billion in the Mid-Barataria sediment diversion project.

If approved, the large-scale project would reconnect the Mississippi River to Louisiana’s Barataria Basin. The project will allow the controlled release of freshwater, nutrients, and sediment back into the basin. This would rebuild wetlands and contribute to the broader restoration of its ecosystem.

The draft plan is available for public comment for 60 days through May 4, 2021. The plan evaluates six design alternatives for the diversion project and identifies one as the preferred alternative.

NOAA and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority are lead Trustees for this draft plan. It was prepared jointly with the other Louisiana Restoration Area Trustees. NOAA and the Authority are also partnering with the Environmental Law Institute and Restore the Mississippi River Delta to co-host community conversations to learn more about the project, on March 22 and 23, and April 20, 2021.

Concurrent with the draft plan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing a draft environmental impact statement, also available for public comment for 60 days. 

Reducing Land Loss Exacerbated by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Louisiana and the Barataria Basin are in the midst of a land loss crisis. The Basin has lost more than 276,000 acres of land since the 1930s. Wetlands in the Basin were the most heavily impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which accelerated a severe land loss trend threatening Louisiana’s estuaries. The oil spill and response activities also significantly increased the rate of wetland loss in the area.

This project has multiple benefits for this area. It will restore a significant amount—tens of thousands of acres—of wetland habitat, and the resources that depend on them, over the next several decades. At peak capacity, the proposed preferred alternative would transport up to 75,000 cubic feet per second of freshwater and its sediment and nutrients. It would harness nature, through engineering, to re-establish the natural process that originally built Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.

Image
Architectural rendering of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion structure would connect the Mississippi River (bottom) to the Barataria Basin (top).
A rendering of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion structure that would connect the Mississippi River (bottom) to the Barataria Basin (top). Image: CPRA

Draft Restoration Plan Comment Period and Virtual Public Meetings

Public comments will be accepted for 60 days through May 4. We encourage you to review and comment on the draft plan by submitting comments online, by mail, or during virtual public meetings listed below.

Methods for Submitting Comments

  • Online: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/MBSD
  • Mail:
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District
    Attn: CEMVN-OD-SE, MVN-2012-2806-EOO
    7400 Leake Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118 

Virtual Public Meetings

We are co-hosting virtual public meetings with the Army Corps of Engineers on April 6, 7, and 8, 2021. We will present information on the draft plan, and the Army Corps will present on the environmental impact statement.

Dates and Times 

  • April 6, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. CT
  • April 7, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. CT
  • April 8, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. CT

Meeting Information

Instructions on how to access the virtual meetings by computer or telephone will be posted approximately two weeks prior to the first meeting.

More informational meetings may be scheduled. When more details are available, we’ll also post them and send them out through our newsletter.

Get the latest news updates from the Deepwater Horizon Trustees

Virtual Community Conversations 

The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and the Environmental Law Institute have partnered to host a dialogue facilitated by Restore the Mississippi River Delta. It will provide information on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion. 

These virtual meetings will provide the public with an informal opportunity to learn and ask questions about the project and the permitting process. The Authority and Louisiana Trustees will guide participants through the recently released draft environmental statement and restoration plan.  We will also discuss how participants can participate in the upcoming formal public meetings and submit formal public comments.

These meetings are not an opportunity to comment publicly on the draft restoration plan and draft environmental impact statement, like the meetings scheduled for April 6–8. They are a chance to better understand the two documents and the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project through a dialogue with the participating organizations.

Dates, Times, and Registration

  • March 22, 2021 from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. CT: Register
  • March 23, 2021 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CT: Register
  • April 20, 2021 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CT: Register
Image
Landscape of healthy coastal Louisiana wetlands.
Healthy coastal Louisiana wetlands. Image: CPRA

Additional Background Information and Links

Louisiana’s marshes are important to the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, but marsh productivity was lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Recognizing that, the historic 2016 settlement allocated almost half of the funding—$4 billion—to restoring Louisiana’s coastal and nearshore habitats.

In 2017, the Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group released a draft and in 2018 approved a final strategic restoration plan. It prioritized large-scale sediment diversion, marsh creation, and ridge restoration techniques and approaches for the Barataria Basin. The strategic plan included the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion and other projects for evaluation and planning. 

More Information and Plan Documents