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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Louisiana Legislature approves 2017 Coastal Master Plan

Louisiana Legislature approves 2017 Coastal Master Plan

(Baton Rouge, LA—) Friday, Louisiana’s State Legislature passed a resolution approving the 2017 Coastal Master Plan, the state’s blueprint for coastal restoration and protection activities.

The master plan prioritizes $50 billion in coastal restoration and risk reduction activities over the next 50 years to address the state’s increasingly severe land loss and sea level rise, including projects for Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

Local and national conservation groups praised both the legislature for its oversight and approval of the plan as well as the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) for developing a comprehensive, science-based vision for how our state can realistically address future environmental challenges.

The suite of projects outlined in the 2017 Coastal Master Plan has received widespread support from a diverse array of coastal advocates, stakeholders, parish officials and communities.

Additionally, a recent poll revealed that an overwhelming majority of Louisiana voters (88 percent) wanted their legislators to approve the master plan, and 97 percent of respondents recognized the value of Louisiana’s coastal areas and wetlands.

The plan includes projects aimed at reducing coastal flood damage and identifying locations where structural and nonstructural improvements will help to reduce flood risk.

The estimated savings are as follows:

- The Morganza-to-the-Gulf levee system is expected to save just under $1.5 billion over the next 25 years and just under $3.5 billion over the next 50 years.

- Projects from Larose to Golden Meadow are expected to save about $100 million over the next 25 years and about $800 million over the next 50 years.

- Terrebonne-Houma nonstructural projects are expected to save about $400 million over the next 25 years and about $600 million over the next 50 years.

Every five years, the master plan is updated to include the latest needs of coastal parishes and implement the newest science available. Overall, the plan includes 124 projects that help to build or maintain more than 800 square miles of land.

Major projects included in the plan include:

- A river diversion along the Atchafalaya River between the Wax Lake Outlet and Bayou Lafourche aiming to divert freshwater into the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway.

The project would help to reduce salinity levels in the Intracoastal Waterway with a flow of 5,000 cubic feet per second of water over the first 30 years of operation. It would also help to deliver sediment to coastal areas and wetlands that would help to reduce land loss.

- A Bayou Lafourche diversion of Mississippi River water would increase the bayou’s freshwater flow capacity to 1,000 cubic feet per second.

- The CPRA intends to restore the Terrebonne, Timbalier and Barataria barrier islands and shorelines, which serve as the first line of defense against storms and daily wave damage. Whiskey Bay off Terrebonne Parish is being restored and local officials said it should be completed sometime next year.

- About $90 million is included to plan, engineer and design the Terrebonne Bay Rim Marsh Creation. The project would help to create marsh in southern Terrebonne, which would provide benefits to the communities and the Morganza-to-the-Gulf protection system.

Many projects include help to elevate and flood proof buildings, and help home and property owners prepare for flooding or move out of areas with abnormally high risk.

Nearly $1.4 billion in Terrebonne will be spent on flood-proofing non-residential properties, elevating homes and acquiring residential properties with extremely high flood risks. Nearly $400 million will be spent in Lafourche.