Freshwater and Sediment Diversions

CWPPRA Restoration Technique: Freshwater and Sediment Diversions

The present location of the Mississippi River has been confined by levees constructed in response to the devastating flood of 1927. Although necessary for protecting life and property, the levees prevent the natural processes of delta building and sediment deposition that are vital for sustaining wetlands. Without this nourishment, the wetlands will eventually succumb to subsidence, storms, and anthropogenic impacts.

The CWPPRA program has been finding solutions to optimize river resources and help rebuild wetlands with minimal impact to other stakeholders. Controlled diversions route river water through strategic locations in the levees to feed starving marshes. Crevasses, or cuts, are constructed through levees to allow passive creation of smaller deltas. Siphons suction fresh river water and direct flow into wetlands suffering from saltwater intrusion. Water-control structures and channel maintenance help distribute river water diverted from large-scale structures constructed under other authorities.

The river presents the greatest opportunity for rebuilding land but also the greatest challenges, as competing needs are inevitable. The human and natural environments must be able to coexist because they are inextricably connected. Together with stakeholders, CWPPRA projects are helping to reverse land loss on an ecosystem scale and support the economy on which coastal Louisiana has come to depend.

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MR-03 West Bay Sediment Diversion
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St. Catherine Island Marsh Creation & Shoreline Protection

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The landfall of Hurricane Katrina in southeast Louisiana destroyed thousands of acres of marsh and other coastal habitats in the Lake Pontchartrain basin. The hurricane weakened the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline and large areas of interior marsh habitat were either lost or damaged near Chef Menteur Pass. This area has an estimated erosion rate of 18 ft./yr. or greater. A portion of the lakeshore is protected by rock dikes (Bayou Chevee PO-22, State only project and FWS funded project). Shorelines that are not protected by rock dikes will erode back into the shallow open water areas located near the shorelines further increasing erosion rates.

This project would extend the Bayou Chevee (PO-22) rock dike along approximately 33,324 LF of weakened Lake Pontchartrain shoreline. A 6,468 LF foreshore dike and a 13,851 LF revetment totaling 20,319 LF is proposed to be built along a portion of the Bayou Savauge NWR. This would protect approximately 201 acres. This project would also create/nourish 115 acres (100 acres of marsh creation and 15 acres of marsh nourisment). That marsh would be created by filling those sites with material hydraulically dredged from the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain. A combination of healthy established marshes, bayou ridges, and constructed earthen dikes would contain that material. All constructed containment dikes would be sufficiently gapped within 3 years to allow for exchange of nutrients and estuarine organisms. This project would work synergistically with other restoration projects in the area including CWPPRA, state, and Bayou Savauge National Wildlife Refuge projects.

The goals of the project are to 1) stop shoreline erosion due
to wind generated waves along 33,324 linear feet of the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline, preserving 201 acres (166 acres of marsh and 35 acres of shallow water) and 2) create/nourish 115 acres (create 100 acres of marsh and nourish 15 acres of marsh) landward of that shoreline protection.

Service goals include the protection/creation of habitat or improvement of habitat for species of concern (LDWF), priority species (JV), and threatened and endangered species (FWS). The creation of low salinity brackish intertidal marsh habitat would be beneficial to several species that are currently on these lists, including, but not limited to Black Rail, Mottled Duck, Brown Pelican, King Rail, and Saltwater Topminnow. Helping to improve habitat, especially on Federal and State owned lands, ensures the protection of those valuable resources in perpetuity and should be a priority.

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This project is located in Region 1, Pontchartrain Basin, Orleans Parish.

This project was approved for Phase I Engineering and Design in January 2017 and is on Priority Project List (PPL) 26.

The St. Catherine Island Marsh Creation & Shoreline Protection project sponsors include:

Keep up with this project and other CWPPRA projects on the project page.

Barrier Island Restoration

CWPPRA Restoration Technique: Barrier Islands

Barrier islands are known as coastal Louisiana’s first line of defense against destructive storm surge. These islands are a unique composite of beach, dune, marsh, and sand flats that host a tremendous variety of fisheries and wildlife, including endangered species. Barrier island restoration projects are designed to protect and restore the features unique to Louisiana’s barrier island chains. This type of project may incorporate a variety of restoration techniques, such as the placement of dredged material to increase island height and width, the placement of structures to protect the island from erosive forces, and the placement of sand-trapping fences, used in conjunction with vegetative plantings, to build and stabilize sand dunes.

Responsible for the majority of Louisiana barrier island restorations to date, CWPPRA has led the charge in barrier island restoration because it recognizes the ecological importance of barrier islands and their critical role in the defense of coastal Louisiana.

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BA-38 Barataria Barrier Island Complex Project: Pelican Island and Pass La Mer to Chaland Pass Restoration

 

Marsh Creation

CWPPRA Restoration Technique: Marsh Creation

Marsh creation replicates the natural land-building process of the Mississippi River in a controlled, and much accelerated, fashion. Land is built by a pipeline dredge that removes sediment from a “borrow” site by using a specialized vessel outfitted with a drill, suction pump, and pipe. As the drill, or cutterhead, spins, it agitates sediment at the bottom of the borrow site. This sediment is then pumped with water into a pipe that carries the resultant slurry to the restoration site. Once the slurry is in place, the water runs off as the sediment settles to form new land. Native vegetation is then installed to jump-start wetland productivity. Marsh creation projects result in restored wetlands in areas that were open water just weeks before.

CWPPRA is striving to identify and construct projects that provide strategic benefits by holding together larger ecosystems and that use renewable sediment resources like the river. Over the course of 26 years, CWPPRA has been restoring one piece of broken marsh at a time, which cumulatively yields significant results over time. The long-term vision is to sustain these restored marshes by restoring part of the riverine processes that first built them.

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PO-104 Bayou Bonfouca Marsh Creation Project

 

Bayou LaLoutre Ridge Restoration and Marsh Creation

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Historic and current ridge habitat loss occurs in the form of subsidence and shoreline erosion along Bayou La Loutre. The shoreline erosion is caused by increased boat traffic diverted due to the closure of the MRGO channel. Ridge habitat consists of Live Oak Hackberry Maritime forest which is utilized by trans-gulf migratory bird species as a first and last stop when crossing the Gulf of Mexico. This critical habitat is rated as S1-Most Critically Imperiled (State Natural Heritage Program) and S2 priority by the state of Louisiana. Interior marsh loss along Lena Lagoon is caused by subsidence, sediment deprivation, increased wave fetch and construction of access and navigational canals. The integrity of the Lena Lagoon shoreline has been breached, and loss of this wetland buffer will expose the La Loutre ridge to highly erosional winter storm events.

The goal of the project is to create an approximately 31.7 acre ridge feature with material from bucket dredging Bayou La Loutre. Additionally dredged material from Lake Borgne will create 163 acres of marsh and nourish approximately 258 acres of marsh along Lena Lagoon (421 acres total).

The proposed project will create approximately 5.46 miles (28,855 ft) of ridge along Bayou La Loutre and 24.4 acres of Live Oak/Hackberry Maritime forest habitat. The ridge habitat will be built centerline along the bank of the bayou. The structure will have a +4 elevation with a 5:1 slope on the bayou side and 3:1 slope on the marsh side. Additionally the newly created ridge will include herbaceous and woody plantings with smooth cord plantings along the toe. The Lena Lagoon site will create and nourish approximately 421 acres of marsh using sediment dredged from Lake Borgne. Lena Lagoon will have a semi-confined south and east flank and a fully confined north flank. Containment will be degraded as necessary to re-establish hydrologic connectivity with adjacent wetlands.

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This project is located in Region 1, Lake Pontchartrain Basin and Breton Basin, St. Bernard Parish.

This project was approved for Phase I Engineering and Design in January 2017 and is on Priority Project List (PPL) 26.

The Bayou LaLoutre Ridge Restoration and Marsh Creation project sponsors include:

Keep up with this project and other CWPPRA projects on the project page.

 

 

World Water Day

Water, promoter of all life forms on Earth, is recognized today- World Water Day!  In Louisiana, 47% of the state’s population resides in the coastal zone, with a majority of livelihoods reliant on water. Industries such as aquaculture, agriculture, oil and gas, and tourism depend on the sustainability and quality of Louisiana’s waters.  This essential natural resource has a synergistic relationship with Louisiana’s wetlands, providing vital nourishment to fisheries, wildlife, and Louisiana’s coastal growth.  Wetlands improve water quality by trapping suspended solids and filtering other pollutants. Coastal marshes filter excess nitrogen and phosphorus, thus helping to prevent algal blooms and maintaining oxygen in the water for fish and shellfish. Wetlands can retain, remove, and transform nutrients that might otherwise contribute to declining water quality. Clean water is important for healthy fish, wildlife, and humans. Water is not only a commodity, but a contributor to life… appreciate it, preserve it, and protect it!

Water is the key to life, celebrate World Water Day!

Wetlands

 

 

 

Shoreline Protection

CWPPRA Restoration Technique: Shoreline Protection

Louisiana’s shorelines are eroding at a drastic pace, some at rates up to 50 feet per year. The fertile but fragile soils found in the wetlands are susceptible to wave energy. As land is lost, water bodies merge together, which can increase wave fetch and shoreline erosion. Behind these shorelines lie communities, highways, and infrastructure that are at risk of washing away.

Various techniques to defend the coastline have been tested and applied under CWPPRA. Rock revetments, oyster reefs, concrete panels, and other fabricated materials have been constructed along otherwise unstable shorelines to abate wave energy and reduce erosion. These structures are designed to break waves, and they often trap waterborne sediments behind the structures that, over time, can become new land.

Through the course of the CWPPRA program, advancements have been made in shoreline structures that have helped maintain natural processes while providing critical protection. Such advancements have included using lighter-weight materials that require less maintenance and can be constructed on organic sediments. Other advancements include low-relief structures that are designed to trap sediments and natural breakwaters such as reefs that can self-maintain and support other ecological functions. Other natural shoreline protection measures include vegetative plantings, whose roots help secure soils and can promote accretion. These projects are implemented with consideration for minimizing impacts to the surrounding environment. Although some shoreline structures may look foreign in a natural landscape, they are necessary features that physically protect communities and hold wetlands in place by mitigating the harsh forces that move to destroy them.

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BA-26 Barataria Bay Waterway East Side Shoreline Protection