Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and Senator Jonathan Perry announced up to $360,000 in Interim Emergency Funds for the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to help correct problems causing saltwater intrusion in the Vermilion Parish area. The salt water negatively impacts the freshwater marshes throughout the Mermentau Basin, as well as farmers who utilize fresh water for crawfish, rice and other crops. The use of the funds was approved by the State's Interim Emergency Board. Last year's drought led to saltwater intrusion and adverse impacts on farmers in the region.
Governor Jindal said, "This investment will help fix eroding banks and provide our farmers with a permanent solution so they can get back on their feet after last year's drought and saltwater intrusion."
"This increased saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico has gotten to the point that this year's rice planting will be negatively affected over much of the area in and around Vermilion Parish," said Sen. Perry. "We are not going to standby and allow that. I am thankful that the Governor's Office and the CPRA are teaming up with us to address the issue. The problem won't go away on its own. The recent heavy rains are helping, but we need to fix what's broken along the Intracoastal. We're going to use these funds to reduce negative impacts and allow crawfish and rice farmers an opportunity to salvage portions of their crops that either could not be planted or were made unsuitable for harvesting."
The funds will be used to close a breach along the Intracoastal Waterway on the west bank of the Freshwater Bayou Canal, approximately eight miles northeast of Pecan Island in Vermilion Parish. That breach is allowing saltwater to intrude inland, especially during drought conditions. Without proper maintenance, the bank width of this navigation canal has increased threefold (from 172 feet to 583 feet), resulting in the loss of more than 1,100 acres of coastal wetlands.