PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La. (WGNO) — The Army Corps of Engineers has reviewed the environmental impacts of the Mid-Barataria Diversion project in Plaquemines Parish, deciding to give it the green light.
If completed it will be the largest coastal project done in Louisiana. But, it’s being met with opposition.
Louisiana is known as a sportsman’s paradise, but those who make their livelihoods from fishing, shrimping and oyster harvesting fear if the Mid-Barataria Diversion is completed that could change.
“It will cause economic hardship to the coastal communities that are going to be in the direct path of this project, plus it’s going to devastate our seafood, commercial fishing industries, our tourism, restaurant industry and cause socioeconomic hardship,” said Captain George Ricks. He’s been fighting the project for a decade.
The diversion will send water from the Mississippi River through Plaquemines Parish and into the Gulf of Mexico.
“All of our seafood resources rely on this delicate balance on our estuaries of fresh and saltwater and they can’t survive in river water,” said Captain George.
State leaders like Governor John Bel Edwards says this area is experiencing some of the highest rates of land loss in the world. He believes this diversion is our shot at saving the coastline.
Simone Maloz with Restore the Mississippi River Delta agrees.
“We think that this project, by helping stabilize the basin, protecting communities, and really trying to bring back that healthy estuary, we think there’s a solution there,” said Maloz, although she acknowledges this could hurt some fisheries. “There will be impacts and so there is actual mitigation or money tied to that.”
Captain George says there is a better answer.
“Dredge. Build land immediately.”
In the end, both parties agree something has to be done to save the coastline.
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority says as soon as the funding is finalized construction could begin as early as next year.