For Immediate Release: April 15, 2009
Contact: Chris Macaluso
CPRA Adopts 2010 Annual Plan, Asks Corps to Look at Changing Lower Mississippi River Management at Monthly MeetingBATON ROUGE --
The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority approved a nearly $1.4 billion plan that details more than 150 coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects that will receive funding over the next three years at its monthly meeting Wednesday.
Entitled "Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Plan: Integrated Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection in Coastal Louisiana," the plan will now be submitted to the state legislature for approval at the beginning of the upcoming legislative session on April 27 of this year.
A draft of the 2010 Annual Plan was presented to the Authority by Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration officials in February. That was before public comment regarding the plan was gathered and also before Governor Jindal announced he would recommend that the legislature commit $300 million in surplus funds from the 2009 state budget surplus to coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts.
The final plan contains changes to the draft plan based on public input and also reflects the possible addition of those surplus funds. In all, with the addition of surplus finds from 2009, $1.37 billion in funds are applied to projects listed in the plan.
Authority Chairman Garret Graves said a more detailed list of projects that could receive surplus dollars will be developed and voted on by the CPR? after the upcoming legislative session. The list of projects would then have to be presented to the joint legislative budget committee for final approval.
The Authority has already recommended that $200 million of the $300 million that could be added be spent to acquire land needed to build hurricane protection structures in the New Orleans area.
"We had to contemplate how the additional money would be spent in this annual plan because of the timing of the completion of the final plan and the upcoming legislative session," Graves said. "If we receive the additional funds, we will come up with a detailed list of projects that need additional funding to help them reach their completions."
The 2010 plan also outlines a scoring system that will be used to prioritize restoration and protection projects in future annual plans.
Authority member Lou Buatt, representing the Department of Natural Resources, commended the OCPR staff who worked on the plan, saying it has developed the most comprehensive and transparent plan to date.
"This plan is a very good path forward and a major step forward in building coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects," Buatt said. "This plan is dynamic and the scoring system will help us make the best use of the funds available."
The annual plan is a listing and description of specific projects that are part of the over-arching vision of the state's Coastal Master Plan. An annual plan will be written and submitted to the legislature for every year in which coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts contained in the Master Plan are implemented.
The Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Plan can be read on the CPRA website at www.lacpra.org.
In other business, the Authority adopted a resolution proposed by John Barry, representing the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, expressing the CPRA's disappointment that the Army Corps of Engineers did not include studying the management of the lower Mississippi River in its recently released draft Louisiana Coastal Restoration and Protection Study (LACPR).
The resolution further urged the Corps of Engineers to include an assessment of comprehensive lower Mississippi River management in LACPR Final Technical Report, including any positive or negative impacts to flood protection and coastal restoration if the lower river was altered to maximize its land-building potential. The resolution also asks the Corps to identify possible sites for a re-aligned navigation channel.
"We've had the foremost coastal scientists in the world tell us that the best way to restore our coastal marshes is to find a way to form new mouth of the Mississippi River that does not pump sediments into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico," Barry said. "If it can't be done, we need to know that. If it can be done, we need to get moving and make it happen."
Barry used the mouth of the Atchafalaya River in central Louisiana as an example of how a re-engineered Mississippi River could build land on either side of Plaquemines Parish. The Atchafalaya is the only river delta in North America and one of the few rivers in the world that is building land at its mouth through natural sediment deposits.
Scientists, including Dr. Denise Reed from the University of New Orleans, have made presentations to the Authority in the past illustrating that similar land building could take place at the mouth of the Mississippi River if changes were made to current management practices.
Additional items discussed included, an update provided by officials with the Corps of Engineers on ongoing work on hurricane protection in the New Orleans area.
Karen Durham-Aguilera, director of Task Force Hope for the Corps' New Orleans District, told the Authority that 34 projects totaling $1.4 billion are currently being built in the New Orleans area with more than 100 additional contracts to be issued this year.
Durham-Aguilera said the Corps is still on schedule to complete a permanent flood control structure in eastern Orleans Parish at the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal by 2011. Interim storm surge protection will be in place by August of this year, she said.
For more information about the CPRA and Louisiana's coastal protection and restoration efforts, please contact Chris Macaluso at (225) 342-3968 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration master plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development, and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast. Working with federal, state and local political subdivisions, including levee districts, the CPRA will work to establish a safe and sustainable coast that will protect our communities, the nation's critical energy infrastructure, and our bountiful natural resources for generations to come. The CPRA of Louisiana was established by Act 8 of the 1st Extraordinary Session of 2005.