At the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, we believe our ultimate success will be measured by our children and grandchildren. Will the investments we make today leave them with a coast in which they can live, work, and play, or will our current way of life become folklore? The dedicated staff at CPRA take these high stakes to heart. Facing the real threat of future generations losing all connection to our way of life, we are driven each day to make sure our actions move us closer to a sustainable coast than a vanishing one.

This important fight is guided foremost by the best science and engineering available. Over decades of planning and research, the science has supported sediment diversions as the most effective and best long-term solution to building and maintaining coastal wetlands. Unfortunately, recent headlines have created confusion about diversions and their intended outcomes and have cast doubt on the sincerity and seriousness of our work at CPRA.

Simply put, impacts resulting from the longest cycle of Mississippi River flooding ever cannot be compared to those of the proposed sediment diversions. Nor should narrow studies on the efficacy of freshwater diversions to build land, a task they were not designed to accomplish, be used to cast doubt on sediment diversions.

A recent study on the Davis Pond and Caernarvon freshwater diversions critically fails to acknowledge the fundamental differences in purpose, design, size, operation, and location between freshwater diversions like Davis Pond and sediment diversions like the ones proposed for Mid-Barataria and Mid-Breton. Freshwater diversions were simply not designed to build land (though they clearly do). Instead, they were engineered, sited, and are operated to manage salinity. The land gain observed is lagniappe and a testament to the River’s untapped ability to build and maintain ecosystems.

Sediment diversions along the Mississippi River are intended to reconnect the river to the wetlands it once created. They have been the cornerstone of our state’s large-scale restoration plan for decades, and are undergoing robust design and permitting processes informed by the best-available science, expert engagement, and input from a diverse group of stakeholders. Once built, these sediment diversions will enable us to rebuild and sustain tens of thousands of acres of coastal wetlands — which serve as critical habitat and a buffer against storm surge. The optimal design and operation of sediment diversions is crucially important to their success and will be refined in the coming months to maximize restoration and minimize negative impacts.

We do not take our charge to protect and save our coast lightly, nor are we ignoring the concerns stakeholders bring to the table for discussion. The future of our coast is at the heart of every decision we make at CPRA, and we’re dedicated to doing all that we can to preserve it for generations to come.

Bren Haase

executive director, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Baton Rouge