Environmental Priorities in the New Orleans District

Within the New Orleans District, the biggest environmental challenge is coastal erosion. The rapid and extensive loss of Louisiana's coastal wetlands has implications far beyond the elimination of an ecosystem. Coastal land loss affects the region's susceptibility to hurricane damage, the entire nation's energy supply, and important fish and wildlife habitat. The Corps of Engineers plays an important role in carrying out federal initiatives aimed protecting and restoring Louisiana's coastal wetlands.

Coastal Restoration Programs

Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Program (CWPPRA or "Breaux Act")

The Corps acts as the administrator of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Program (CWPPRA or "Breaux Act"), which funds the planning and implementation of small, immediate coastal restoration projects that can be implemented in 3-5 years. Created in 1990, the federal CWPPRA program has been the state’s primary mechanism for addressing wetland loss. The program has funded important projects, but over the course of a decade policy makers discovered that its scope and funding are not adequate to address the magnitude of Louisiana’s coastal land losses. A much broader approach and substantially more resources would be necessary to reverse the breakdown of an ecosystem.

Louisiana Coastal Area Program (LCA)    

The Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA) program focuses on critical, near-term ecosystem restoration projects and studies, as approved in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007.  The program goal is to slow the current trend of coast-wide wetland loss and resource degradation.  Several restoration techniques are employed in this program, including freshwater diversions, marsh creation and barrier island restoration.  Overall, the program is focused on a systematic approach to coastal restoration using larger projects to restore natural features and ecosystem processes.  The LCA pogrom also includes a Beneficial Use of Dredged Material program, a Demonstration Projects program, and efforts to develop a long-term, comprehensive outlook for coastal restoration and risk reduction planning efforts in the future.

Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR)  

In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. Congress directed the US Army Corps of Engineers to develop a technical report that explored alternatives for attaining increased levels of risk reduction through coastal protection and restoration of the Louisiana coast.  The final report, titled the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Technical Report, was transmitted to Congress in June 2010.  The final technical report provides guidance for Congress and the State of Louisiana in long-term decision making regarding hurricane risk reduction and coastal restoration.

MRGO Ecosystem Restoration

The MRGO Ecosystem Restoration Plan was developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a supplement to the MRGO Deep-Draft Deauthorization Report to Congress.  The comprehensive ecosystem restoration plan is aimed at the restoration and conservation of estuarine habitat areas affected by the MRGO navigation channel.  Section 7013 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007 authorized the development of the plan, and a feasibility study, fully funded by the Federal government, was completed on 28 September 2012.  Implementation of the recommended ecosystem restoration plan requires the signing of a cost-share agreement with the Corps’ non-Federal sponsors, the State of Louisiana and the State of Mississippi.