NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The Mid-Barataria Diversion project is being built after years of discussion, planning and controversy.

The aim of the project is to divert some of the Mississippi River’s water into a newly built channel and guide it into the Barataria basin southeast of New Orleans, which in turn will help restore about 20 to 40 square miles of key wetlands.

“It may not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things in terms of what’s in the basin now but at the end of 50 years or so, that actually represents about 20% of the coastal wetlands remaining within the basin, so it’s a pretty significant contribution,” CPRA Board Chairman Bren Haase said.

The project saw backlash from the fishing community, saying the introduction of river water into the salty basin will have major environmental and economic impacts, harming marine life and disrupting the seafood industry.

“Yeah, there will be some inconvenience with respect to fishery; but at the end of the day we want our fish caught were our grandfathers and great-grandfathers caught fish, and there’s no way to take what’s there today, open land, restore it to marsh and not have an adverse impact,” Governor John Bel Edwards said.

Edwards says that he understands the concerns the project has caused but promises that the project will have a way larger positive impact than negative.

“What I want you to focus on is we’re protecting the livelihood of everyone who lives in this part of Louisiana by restoring this marsh and creating this buffer between our people and the Gulf of Mexico,” Edwards said.

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