Gulf of Mexico
Port Fourchon leadership also expressed a desire to use that resulting dredged material in the most beneficial way possible. The Greater Lafourche Port Commission photo

LA - Using dredged materials to aid Port Fourchon

A new study from The Water Institute aims to help The Greater Lafourche Port Commission leadership find the best use of dredge material resulting from Port Fourchon dredging and expansion. Results will help improve the resilience of the port, serve long-term needs of local communities, and improve the ecosystem.

The work was done using a “community-informed transdisciplinary approach,” meaning local community members joined with research scientists in order to develop a series of coastal projects that would help protect port infrastructure, provide ecosystem services, improve area resilience, and quantify carbon-capture benefits.

The Port Fourchon facility plays a role in the importation of about 20% of the nation’s oil supply while also being located at the dynamic intersection of Bayou Lafourche and the Gulf of Mexico. Being on the coast is vital to the port, but it also brings challenges since the area experiences some of the highest relative sea level rise rates, shoreline erosion, and land loss in the U.S..

The work started after the port announced in 2016 it was going to pursue permits for the deepening of Belle Pass in order to build additional maintenance facilities. At that time, Port Fourchon leadership also expressed a desire to use that resulting dredged material in the most beneficial way possible.

The next year, the port and energy industry partners Chevron, Shell and Danos, joined with The Water Institute to form the Partnership for Our Working Coast (POWC). Additional funding supporting the work came from the National Coastal Resilience Fund administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The goal was to bring together a public/private partnership that could develop a science-based approach to using the dredge material to protect critical infrastructure, provide ecosystem services, improve resilience of the area from Port Fourchon to Larose, and to better quantify the carbon-capture benefits of the restoration approach.

In order to accomplish this, The Water Institute brought together technical experts and local knowledge experts, people who live or work in the area, into an Environmental Competency Group. This group worked to co-develop potential projects in which the dredged material from the port would provide the greatest benefits.

You can read the Phase 2 summary, the full report, and appendices here.

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