BATON ROUGE – Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced that Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has received an additional $9.6 million in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury for the engineering and design phase of the Calcasieu Ship Channel Salinity Control Measures project under the Direct Component of the RESTORE Act.
"Coastal protection and restoration have been a priority of my administration since day one," said Gov. Edwards. "I am pleased that we are moving large scale projects forward that have been envisioned for years and that are necessary to enabling us to maintain our homes, businesses and way of life in coastal Louisiana.”
CPRA previously received $16 million in RESTORE Act funding for computational modeling, data collection, and engineering and design of the project ($25.6 million total).
“This is a cornerstone project in the State’s Coastal Master Plan, and will deliver substantial benefits for the citizens of Southwest Louisiana”, states Johnny Bradberry, Governor Edwards' Executive Assistant for Coastal Activities and Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board Chairman. “These additional grant funds will be directed to advance the project’s design; support land rights research, project management (including stakeholder engagement), development of an operations, maintenance, monitoring, and adaptive management plan; and support section 10/404 regulatory compliance,” said Bradberry.
To date, CPRA has moved forward with design of channelization features which will limit intrusion of saltwater from the Calcasieu Ship Channel into adjacent water bodies and wetlands. CPRA expects to complete 15% design by March 2018.
The purpose of the Calcasieu Salinity Control Measures project is to manage saltwater being introduced into adjacent water bodies and wetlands through the Calcasieu Ship Channel, thereby reducing the rate of wetland loss of the interior wetlands. This project is needed to achieve, in part, the goals of the Master Plan by addressing modifications to hydrology that have caused an increase in salinity, resulting in the loss of wetlands. Restoring this coastal ecosystem and lowering the risk associated with sea level rise, subsidence, and tropical events along the coast will also improve the long-term economic health of the region.
The Calcasieu Lake area has undergone substantial land loss since 1932. The present day Calcasieu Ship Channel cross section is more than 40 times larger than when it was first dredged for navigation in the late 1800s. This change has affected hydrology by: channeling saltwater inland into a historically low-salinity estuary; reducing freshwater residence time when the tide ebbs; and, increasing tidal amplitude through the broader waterway.