LA - Louisiana's draft coastal master plan update promises billions in hurricane-damage savings

An updated draft of the state’s $50 billion Coastal Master Plan predicts that 61 new projects to build or protect land, a dozen new levees and new efforts to raise, flood or relocate flood-prone homes will reduce annual damage from hurricane storm surges will be at least $11 billion a year by 2073.

The plan includes calls for the construction of projects that have long been proposed to reduce flood risk, such as B. A $2.4 billion concrete barrier and weir combination aimed at reducing flooding of Lake Pontchartrain through the Rigolets and Chef Menteur passes.

It also reverses some previous decisions not to build major levees, including plans to protect parts of the communities of Iberia and St. Mary from the Gulf of Mexico; Dramatically improve levees around the Lafitte area and protect parts of the parishes of St James and Ascension where sea level rise is expected to increase the risk of flooding from Lake Maurepas over the next 50 years.

The $1.7 billion 31-million Iberia-St. The Mary Upland Dyke would be designed to withstand the surges caused by a 1% chance hurricane each year — a so-called 100-year storm — and would be built in the first 20 years of the plan. The project will reduce flooding for New Iberia, Jeanerette, Lydia and the Port of Iberia.

Both the $1.4 billion, 28-mile Lafitte Ring Dike, which would be raised from its current 7 ½-foot level to a 16-foot 100-year flood level, and the 39-mile -st The $730 million James-Ascension Parishes storm surge defense levee project would be built during the final 30 years of the plan.

Most of the money allocated for shoreline restoration will go to projects that dredge sediment from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers or from local bays, with $16 billion for wetland restoration and $2.9 billion for Dollars are allocated for land bridges – combinations of wetlands, mountain ridges and more. Land of Water – intended to be built over open water in the Barataria and Lafourche Basins.

Also read: Louisiana risks billions of dollars in storm surge damage without new coastal projects, officials warn Surroundings

The 100-page report, released Friday by the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Agency, focuses on offsetting at least some of the coastal erosion caused by natural subsidence and the effects of global warming on sea levels, while reducing risk reduce damage from flooding for the state’s 2 million coastal residents.

Stuart Brown, who oversees the master plan program for the CPRA, said the loss of nearly 2,000 square miles of shoreline since 1932 has had a direct impact on inshore fisheries and wildlife resources, and the jobs and incomes that depend on them.

“We’ve been experiencing a land loss crisis for almost a century,” he said.

The land losses are also directly impacting other segments of the coast’s economy and culture, including agriculture, tourism, shipping and oil and gas, he said.

“And of course, land loss also increases the impact of flooding from hurricanes and tropical storms,” ​​Brown said. “And that’s probably how most coastal residents experience the impact of land loss the hardest.”

“Addressing Louisiana’s land loss crisis and protecting coastal communities requires the comprehensive and integrated approach provided by the projects identified in the Master Plan,” added CPRA Chair Chip Kline. “No other state in the country has a plan like ours that uses the best science and technology available to preserve our coastline and culture for generations to come.”

The update is the fourth of the master plan since it was first approved by the Legislature in 2007. All three previous plans were unanimously approved by the Legislature. In 2018, lawmakers voted to increase the time between revisions from five to six years, meaning the next revision will come in 2029.

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