The plan looks forward through 50 years of projects designed by state scientists as well as national and international specialists. It is based on a two-year analysis that selected 109 projects across the coastline that scientists believe could deliver measurable benefits to communities and the coastal ecosystem over the coming decades. The plan states that if these projects were fully funded, at a price tag of $50 billion, the state could substantially increase flood protection for communities and create a sustainable coast, according to the coastal master plan website.
Louisiana has lost 1,880 square miles of land since the 1930s. If nothing more were done, the state would stand to lose an additional 1,750 square miles, according to the master plan.
“Given the importance of so many of south Louisiana’s natural assets — its waterways, natural resources, unique culture, and wetlands — this land loss crisis is nothing short of a national emergency, one that takes a daily toll on the lives of coastal residents,” the website states.
In response, the Louisiana Legislature passed Act 8 in 2006, which created the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and required it to develop a coastal master plan every five years. The first master plan was approved by the legislature in 2007.
“The projects in the plan strike a balance between providing immediate relief to hard hit areas and laying groundwork for the large scale efforts that are essential if we are to protect communities and sustain our landscape,” according to the website.
Projects affecting St. Mary Parish in the first implementation, 2012 through 2031, include:
—Sediment diversion from the Atchafalaya River into or to benefit Penchant and southwest Terrebonne marshes at an estimated cost of $783 million.
—Increasing Atchafalaya River flow to eastern Terrebonne by dredging the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway east of the Atchafalaya and installing a bypass structure at the Bayou Boeuf Lock to increase freshwater and sediment flows. The project is estimated to cost $292 million.
—Amelia levee improvements which include construction of a levee to an elevation of 18 feet around Amelia, along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway between Lake Palourde and the Bayou Boeuf Lock for hurricane storm surge risk reduction. The project includes about 56,000 feet of earthen levees, 1,600 feet of concrete walls and one 220-foot barge gate. The project is estimated to cost $257 million.
—Construction of a Morgan City back levee to an elevation of 13.5 feet along the south shore of Lake Palourde for hurricane storm surge risk reduction. Project features include 39,000 feet of earthen levees, 1,000 feet of concrete walls and one 110-foot barge gate at an estimated cost of 138 million.
—A Bayou Chene floodgate and associated levee to an elevation of 10 feet across the bayou also are planned. The project includes 32,000 feet of earthen levee and one 420-foot floodgate at an estimated cost of $80 million.
In the second implementation period, years 2032-2061, projects include:
—Gulf Intracoastal Waterway shoreline protection from Intracoastal City to Amelia. This includes about 690,000 feet of shoreline and is designed to protect the shoreline’s integrity as well as reduce wetland degradation from wave action. It is estimated to cost $765 million.
—Construction of a levee from Berwick to the Wax Lake Outlet at an elevation of 18 feet south of Berwick and Patterson, along the GIWW between the Atchafalaya River and the Wax Lake Outlet. The project includes about 72,000 feet of earthen levees at a projected cost of $253 million.
—Construction of a levee to an elevation of 16.5 feet between the Wax Lake Outlet and the Charenton Drainage and Navigation Canal along the north bank of the GIWW. Project features include about 284,000 feet of levees, 1,000 feet of concrete walls, one 110-foot barge gate and five pumps.
The master plan can be found at www.coastalmasterplan.louisiana.gov.