NAME OF APPLICANT: Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Atchafalaya Basin Program, Post Office Box 44487, Baton Rouge, 70802.
LOCATION: Located at Latitude 29.99472, Longitude -91.44444, in and adjacent to Grand Lake, near Jeanerette, Louisiana, within Iberia Parish. The project is located within the Atchafalaya Basin Floodway, Hydrologic Unit 08080101.
ADMINISTRATIVE AND PROJECT HISTORY: A previous joint public notice was posted on February 8, 2016 for an initially proposed project, which included the dredging of sediment accretion and shoaling areas in Grand Lake, for the purpose of restoring deeper water habitats and reducing a major navigation hazard for boaters. Material dredged from Grand Lake was initially proposed to be transported and deposited into the Atchafalaya River. Due to issues and concerns expressed by the USACE Operations Division regarding the discharge of dredge material into a federally maintained channel, the applicant explored other options and developed a less environmentally damaging practicable alternative (beneficial placement of dredge material into a nearby Section 10 private pipeline canal), that still met the overall project purpose. A State WQC was issued to the State of Louisiana, Department of Natural Resources, Atchafalaya Basin Program on June 10, 2016, and subsequently a DA permit was issued for the modified project on September 29, 2017. In light of a recent challenge filed against the DA permit in the United States Federal District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, the New Orleans District, USACE has volunteered to post a new public notice and re-evaluate the final authorized modified project plans. The USACE is soliciting comments from all interested parties during this special 20-day public review process, in order to consider and re-evaluate the project.
AUTHORIZED - MODIFIED PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant requested a DA permit to dredge material from Grand Lake and re-deposit the dredge material into a nearby pipeline canal, at the location specified above. A channel training breach at the Atchafalaya River in 2011 caused rapid sediment accretion and the formation of a large sand bar and shoaling area in Grand Lake, which contains some of the last remaining deep water habitat in the Atchafalaya Basin. In addition to degrading deep water habitat in Grand Lake, this sediment accretion has become a major navigational hazard to boaters and has extended across much of the lake’s width. The purpose of the authorized project is to restore the lake to its previous bottom elevations by dredging the newly formed sand bar and shoaling areas in Grand Lake. The total dredging volume will be approximately 200,000 cubic yards, and spoil generated from this project was proposed to be transferred by dredge pipeline and used beneficially to fill an adjacent private pipeline canal. An existing authorized rock berm and plug is located on the western end of the canal at the Atchafalaya River, and a newly constructed sediment trap and containment berms were proposed to be installed on the eastern end of the canal. Fill operations were proposed to be located and deposited in a manner that would avoid any disruption to the natural course and flow of Swing Chute at its intersection with the pipeline canal, as can be viewed in the attached drawings. Any excess sediment that exceeds the volume of the canal will remain in Grand Lake. The Technical Advisory Group and Research and Promotion Board of the Atchafalaya Basin Program (ABP) approved this dredging project for the Fiscal Year 2016 ABP Annual Plan and have identified it as a number one priority for the program. All approved dredging is within Grand Lake, avoiding impacts to vegetated wetlands, and creating approximately 6 acres of wetlands from beneficial placement of the dredge material into the adjacent pipeline canal. Compensatory mitigation was not required, as there were no proposed impacts to jurisdictional wetlands, and consequently a net gain in wetland creation from project construction.
NOTE: As per information provided by the ABP, it is understood that all and/or most all of the authorized project work activities have been completed, to include excavation of shoaling areas in Grand Lake, rehabilitation of the western canal berm, construction of the eastern canal berms and sediment trap, and beneficial placement of excavated spoil materials into portions of the subject pipeline canal.