The authority administers the state’s coastal restoration activities.
Louisiana has been making plans to restore its coastline for over a decade. When the RESTORE Act became law in July, it dedicated 80 percent of any civil and administrative penalties paid under the Clean Water Act because of the Deepwater Horizon spill to the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund.
RESTORE stands for Resources and Ecosystems Sustainabilty, Tourist Opportunity and Revived Economics of the Gulf States.
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council met Tuesday at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center in Houma for the first of its three public engagement sessions.
The oil spill trust fund money is divided according to a specific formula: 30 percent will go to the states — according to a formula that takes into account each state’s impact from the Deepwater Horizon rig — for state expenditure plans; 30 percent plus interest will be managed by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council for ecosystem restoration under the comprehensive plan; 35 percent will be divided equally among the five Gulf Coast states for ecological restoration, economic development and tourism promotion; 2.5 percent plus interest to NOAA for monitoring, observation, science and technology programs; and 2.5 percent plus interest to the states for Centers of Excellence.
The exact amount of trust fund money is not yet known, nor is it known when it will be received, as the cases against all the parties still are winding their way through court.
Funding is based on how much oil gushed into the Gulf. The government has estimated about 200 million barrels flowed into the Gulf of Mexico from April to July 2010, when the well was capped. The fund may top out at about $20 billion, according to government estimates.
A draft comprehensive plan is expected in the spring, with a complete plan coming in July. The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s initial comprehensive plan will include work toward five goals: restore and conserve habitat, restore water quality, replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources, enhance community resilience and restore and revitalize the Gulf Coast economy.
In Louisiana, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority administers the state’s coastal restoration activities.
Ongoing St. Mary Parish projects, which are not funded by oil spill money, include:
—Morgan City Industrial Road at a total budget of $1.66 million in Coastal Impact Assistance Program funds is scheduled for design in the first quarter of calendar year 2013 and construction throughout the remaining three quarters of the year. Completion is expected in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015. The project is a road alignment that begins at the First Street floodgate, proceeds along the unprotected side of the floodwall and ends at the Port of Morgan City’s north gate. The goal of the road is to reduce truck traffic through residential neighborhoods, and it improves access to industrial facilities. This project will be advertised for bid in the next six months.
—Morgan City/St. Mary Parish Flood Protection will provide flood protection improvements by raising or improving over seven miles of the current levee system in the Morgan City area. It is state surplus-funded at a cost of $3.88 million. It is in the design phase with construction set to begin in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 and completion in the third quarter of fiscal year 2016.
—Bayou Sale Shoreline Protection, currently in the design phase, is designed to protect an eroding shoreline with approximately 35,776 feet of rock dike. Its total budget is $32.1 million of Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act funds. This project is expected to remain in the design phase through the second quarter of fiscal year 2015 and is awaiting further funding for implementation.
—Franklin Floodgate Sinkable Barge and Pump Station is under construction with the project scheduled for completion in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015. The project constructs a sinkable barge structure on the Franklin Canal to prevent storm surge from inundating the city. The project is state surplus-funded at a cost of $5.78 million.
—The South Central Coastal Plan is a Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority effort to identify opportunities for hurricane protection and coastal restoration in Iberia, St. Mary and St. Martin parishes. The Louisiana Legislature has put up funding of $225,000 and committed $1 million in prior surplus funds. With the legislative funds, the authority produced a reconnaissance-type report in May 2012. The authority is working with the St. Mary and Iberia levee boards to coordinate their plans with the Master Plan and make the best use of the $1 million. The authority also is working to incorporate South Central funding in future annual plan budgets.