An Honest Discussion Of Louisiana's Berm Plan Part 2

Restoration Work on the Chandeleur  Islands
Construction work in the Chandeleur Islands by Kyle Douglas Jeffery Photography
Flight provided by our friends at SouthWings

The shut down on June 23 of part of the state's dredging operations for construction of offshore sand berms was treated by Governor Jindal as a sudden and arbitrary action by federal agencies. (1) But the reality is somewhat different.

While some media stories conveyed the impression that the state's entire sand berm plan was approved by the Corps of Engineers in late May, only six sections of the original proposal were given a permit. Two sections to the east of the river, on the upper end of the Chandeleur Island chain, and four sections west of the river were authorized by the Corps, which described them as "critical locations where greater immediate benefit is likely to be achieved with minimal adverse disruption of coastal circulation patterns." (2)

The Corps Permit specified the source areas for sand/sediment: Ship Shoal, South Pelto, the Mississippi River Offshore Disposal Site, and Pass a Loutre for the western sites, and St. Bernard shoal and Hewes Point for the sites to the east. The location of borrow and dredge sites at the northern end of the Chandeleur Islands has been one of the areas of greatest concern. NOAA and other agencies had pointed out that creating borrow pits or dredging in close proximity to the islands could cause accelerated erosion and even compromise their stability, so using a source site a couple of miles away was a condition of the permit.

Soon after receiving its permit, however, the state began to voice its intention to source near to the islands after all, due to a lack of pipe for pumping sand and mud from a distance. The state said it would replace sand from the dredged site within a few weeks, but federal agencies agreed to this change with a much shorter time limit because of the possible effects on the island.

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