$130M announced for Maurepas Swamp rehabilitation

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 15, 2020

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BATON ROUGE — This week, Governor John Bel Edwards announced funding for a project that will revitalize 45,000 acres of the Maurepas Swamp, the state’s second-largest coastal swamp forest.

Administered by Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), the project will divert freshwater, sediment, and nutrients from the Mississippi River into the swamp.

The RESTORE Council recently voted to approve $130 million in Deepwater Horizon oil spill dollars to fund the River Reintroduction into the Maurepas Swamp project.

The Maurepas Swamp is more than a natural beauty, according to Edwards. He said it is also a crucial, natural buffer between tropical winds and storm surge.

“If we let this swamp continue to die-off we would be putting many large communities in this region at increased risk,” Edwards said. “The protection and restoration of the Maurepas Swamp is essential to our survival and way of life in southern Louisiana. I commend CPRA and the RESTORE Council for their commitment to saving and protecting our most precious natural resources.”

The entire Maurepas Swamp project is expected to cost about $200 million, according to CPRA Chairman Chip Kline.

The $130 million will be made available for future funding and budgeting once the project accomplishes all engineering, design and permitting requirements.

Project plans include the construction of three 10’x10’ box culverts in the Mississippi River Levee near Garyville. A new two-mile conveyance channel will flow into the existing Hope Canal, which will be enhanced with small earthen levees for the final 3.5 miles into the Maurepas Swamp outfall area just north of I-10.

Other project features include road and railroad crossings, pipeline and utility crossings, and outfall management features such as gaps in canal spoil banks and low-level weirs on certain bayous to help retain and distribute water throughout the swamp.

Construction will not disrupt traffic flow on I-10 or other roadways, and project features will not impede storm water drainage.

The Maurepas Swamp was once nourished by fresh Mississippi River water. Mississippi River levees, which provide flood protection to our communities, have disconnected the river from its delta.

“The swamp has been slowly transitioning from a bald cypress-tupelo swamp to fresh marsh and open water,” said CPRA Executive Director Bren Haase. “Cut off from the river, these native trees and other vegetation have suffered from the lack of seasonal high and low river cycles that both enriched the soil and allowed for regeneration of trees.”

To learn more about the River Reintroduction into the Maurepas Swamp project, visithttp://coastal.la.gov/news/maurepas/.