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Sediment Sampling in Bayou Lafourche In Preparation for Diversion Project

Release Date: 11/7/2002
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

      Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began sampling the sediment in Bayou Lafourche, La., in preparation for a freshwater diversion project from the Mississippi River. The project will supply fresh water to bayou users, blocking saltwater encroachment and providing much needed nutrients to degraded coastal marshes.

      Approved by the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Task Force, the project will use the bayou as a conveyance channel to increase Mississippi River flow into Bayou Lafourche from its current rate of approximately 200 cubic feet per second to approximately 1,000 cubic feet per second.

      To ensure flow capacity within the bayou, engineers estimate that it may be necessary to remove more than six million cubic yards of sediment. EPA is collecting data to evaluate several different sediment placement options.

      The fresh water will be used for drinking water supply for downstream residents and also by business and industry. Increasing fresh water flow also helps rebuild and enhance coastal wetlands. Among other functions, coastal wetlands improve water quality, store flood waters, and provide fish and wildlife habitat. Seventy-five percent of commercially harvested fish are wetland-dependent.

      Coastal wetlands are threatened by a variety of factors, both human-induced and natural. Wetlands are often drained and filled for development or agriculture. They can also be harmed by dredging, channelization, and hurricanes.

      Field sampling should be complete by Thanksgiving. A report is expected in May 2003. The project will be jointly funded by CWPPRA and the state of Louisiana. Engineering and design of the project is the next step, which is expected to cost about $9 million over 18-24 months.

      More information about wetlands is available on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/OWOW/wetlands/index.html. More information about the Bayou Lafourche diversion project is available on the Internet at http://www.lacoast.gov/cwppra/projects/terrebonne/SiphonDiversion/index.htm.


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