Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced during a press conference in Lake Charles that the state has invested more money for dredging and sediment use in Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes than anywhere else in Louisiana, and it is paying off in marsh creation and increased hurricane surge protection.
Governor Jindal said, "With more than $83 million in dredging projects, Calcasieu and Cameron are leading the state in the beneficial use of sediment, the most fundamental and essential material we have for saving our land from erosion, subsidence and rising sea levels.
"This area not only leads the state in using dredged sediment, it is demonstrating to the nation and the world that positive results can be achieved when we simply use the sediment to restore our wetlands in the manner that used to occur naturally. The proof is right here. This is recycling at its best."
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach said, "We are very pleased to see the progress being made in coastal restoration within Calcasieu and Cameron parishes with these project announcements today. Protecting the coastal marshes and beaches of Southwest Louisiana is an investment in the long-term vitality of our region and our state."
Calcasieu Parish Police Jury President Guy Brame said, "The Calcasieu Parish Police Jury deems Louisiana's coastal issue among our highest priorities in long-term planning, and we are proud of the continued progress our region is making in terms of remediation. The sustainability of the Calcasieu Ship Channel and its immediate area is home to vital industries that impact the nation in oil, natural gas, shipping, and seafood. It's important for this momentum to continue to progress for Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes."
Port of Lake Charles Director Bill Rase said, "The Port of Lake Charles continues to be active in the coastal restoration efforts for Cameron and Calcasieu parishes. In 2010, along with our partners, the State of Louisiana, Calcasieu Parish and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 660 acres of marsh have been developed using material dredged from the Calcasieu Ship Channel."
Manager of Conservation Programs for Ducks Unlimited Bob Dew said, "Southwest Louisiana supports one of the largest populations of wintering waterfowl in North America and is one of Ducks Unlimited's highest priority areas. Ducks Unlimited also recognizes the economic importance of the area related to energy, agricultural and transportation. Utilizing dredged sediments to accomplish multiple environmental and economic goals is the right policy. Restoring coastal marsh not only provides direct benefits to wildlife and fisheries resources, but also protects communities, economic interests and a critical rice agricultural industry in southwest Louisiana."
The Governor also pointed out that sediment diversion from the Calcasieu River Ship Channel has already built 1,113 acres of marsh and the new permanent pipeline recently completed near Hackberry has the potential to build more than 3,000 additional acres over the first 20 years of its use.
Another dredging project was completed in May: the $21 million Black Lake Supplemental Beneficial Use Disposal Area project used 2.3 million cubic yards of dredged material to create 440 acres of marsh in previously open water. A temporary sediment pipeline was constructed, running 15 miles from the Calcasieu River Ship Channel to the Black Lake site.
Marsh degradation is caused by saltwater intrusion and freshwater loss, resulting in beneficial marsh being turned in to large shallow open-water areas. Rebuilding and protecting those marshlands is a primary goal of strategic sediment placement.
Garret Graves, chairman of the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said, "Using dredged material for marsh creation is truly a win-win situation. The areas available to dispose of dredged sediment are very limited in this area. Had we not used the dredge spoils to build wetlands, they may not have been able to dredge here. This really is a win-win -- finding a place to put dredged sediment and building wetlands."
Graves also said he hopes the positive results shown here influence the Corps of Engineers, which has been reluctant to allow the state to dredge materials from the Mississippi River and put them to use rebuilding sinking wetlands.
"The Corps needs to do this all over our state instead of continuing to waste the material by dumping in the deep waters of the gulf," Graves said.
There is an additional benefit to the dredging projects for the Port of Lake Charles, which is one of the largest in the nation - handling over five million tons of cargo, annually.
One of the challenges is disposing of the dredge material that builds up in the river. While, the Corps would normally dump the sediment into the Gulf of Mexico, they cannot in the Southwest region, due to cost. In some cases, the Corps has actually threatened to delay or even stop dredging until they can find ways to dispose of the river sediment. The Jindal Administration's investments solve the issue by allowing the port to continue thriving, while also restoring the loss of wetlands that provide such an important buffer between the area and the Gulf of Mexico.
Another noteworthy dredging project is the pending Cameron Parish Shoreline Restoration project, which will rebuild approximately 8.7 miles of beach from the Calcasieu Ship Channel jetties to the Constance Beach Breakwaters. This $45.8 million project will use sand dredged from offshore federal waters. Construction should start by the summer of 2012.
In addition to dredging, the governor highlighted other coastal protection and restoration projects that are either complete, under construction, or are in preparation. These include:
* Rebuilding 19 miles of levee along the eastern rim of Calcasieu Lake at a cost of
$14 million--just completed and undergoing final inspection today, Sept. 8
* Refurbishing three major waterway control structures on the Sabine Wildlife Refuge; completion set for December of this year ($5.7 million)
* Reconstruction of a rock dike to reduce shoreline loss along "School Bus Bayou" in
Cote Blanche Bay, and replacing damaged and missing navigational signs ($10 million)
* Replacing sand fencing west of Holly Beach ($14 million)
* Testing an oysterbreak structure to prevent beach erosion off the Rockefeller Refuge and increase the habitat diversity associated with natural oyster reefs ($2.3 million)
* Kelso Bayou Marsh Creation to restore and protect approximately 319 acres of marsh and 3,200 linear feet of shoreline protection ($2.4 million)
* Cameron-Creole Watershed Grand Bayou Marsh Creation using dredged material from Calcasieu Lake benefit Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, creating and/or nourishing more than 600 acres of brackish marsh ($23.4 million)
* "Cameron-Creole Freshwater Introduction" to restore function and sustainability of 22 acres ($12.8 million)
* Southwest Coastal Louisiana Feasibility Study to integrate ecosystem restoration and hurricane protection alternatives for approximately 70 to 80 projects totaling billions of dollars addressing coastal issues, including additional shoreline stabilization, marsh creation, salinity control, and hurricane protection.