Thousands of miles of pipeline canals that once cut through the wetlands of Louisiana now (when viewed from above) look like straight, green lines reaching into the Gulf of Mexico.
Those canals once made the flow of oil and natural gas possible. Now they make it impossible to keep the salt water from flowing inland and eating away at the wetlands.
Here at Stan’s, we specialize in coastal land reclamation and pipeline management. We help you keep the oil flowing while protecting the rich ecosystems that support fish and wildlife central to our state economy. Since our wetlands also absorb the forces of floods and storms, protecting them also means protecting coastal oil and gas infrastructure from storm surges.
It’s hard to say how much of Louisiana’s oil and gas infrastructure is at risk from the receding coastline; one Bloomberg article estimates it to be $100 billion worth of ports, refineries, tanks and pipelines.
We do know that some 20 square miles of coastal land are disappearing every year, taking with it the marsh that protects the vast pipeline network laid over the years. In fact, more than 610 miles of pipeline could be exposed over the next 25 years, according to a Louisiana State University study.
This loss of barrier islands and swampland is also creating an increased flood risk. Without that natural buffer to soak up the rainfall, storms will be more likely to cause flooding like what was seen in Baton Rouge last year.
The Path Forward
We’ve known about these problems for years. And that’s why Louisiana is spending much of its share of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement on coastal restoration.
Louisiana’s master plan for coastal restoration and hurricane protection includes marsh creation projects in the Barataria and Terrebonne basins and projects protecting coastal and lake shorelines in western Louisiana.
The plan includes guidelines for flood-proofing businesses, elevating houses and teaching residents how to safely evacuate from areas when they are at the highest risk of flooding.
The master plan includes risk reduction and restoration projects. It addresses barrier island restoration, sediment diversion, hydrologic restoration and structural protection. Here is a brief overview of five of the plan’s projects and what the state hopes to achieve with them.
North Lake Mechant
Terrebonne Parish is at risk of nearly half of its area disappearing over the next several decades, according to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. That’s why the goal of the $1 billion project is to revive about 13,000 acres of marsh in central Terrebonne.
The new marsh will extend from Lake De Cade to Lake Mechant and act as a bulwark against future land loss. The project is also restoring a critical landbridge barrier between the erodible fresh marshes north of Bayou De Cade and the”higher saline environment” of Lake Mechant. Click here for more information about North Lake Mechant Landbridge Restoration.
East Calcasieu Lake
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority estimates Cameron Parish in far west Louisiana will lose more than 440 acres over the next 50 years—more land than any other parish.
The East Calcasieu marsh project is a $1.1 billion project to reclaim 17,000 acres of marsh in the east Cameron-Creole watershed over the next 13 years. Click here for more information about Cameron Creole Watershed Grand Bayou Marsh creation.
With a $1.8 billion price tag, the most expensive restoration project in Louisiana’s 50-year coastal master plan will generate 25,000 acres of marsh west and south of Dulac, between Bayou du Large and the Houma Navigation Canal.
According to the coastal master plan, Dulac, Cocodrie, Chauvinand neighboring communities remain at high risk of flooding. This project will take 18 years to complete. Click here to read more about Terrebonne Parish and the environmental dangers the Master Plan addresses.
New Orleans East Landbridge
On the east side of Lake Pontchartrain, between New Orleans and Slidell, some 21,000 acres are being restored after the destruction of tropical storms over the last few decades.
This project, which is expected to take another 21 years to complete, will protect the Orleans Landbridge—thus protecting the fish and wildlife dependent on these marsh habitats.
The $1.5 billion undertaking will also protect communities along the lake. Click here for more information about New Orleans Landbridge Shoreline Stabilization & Marsh Creation.
Belle Pass-Golden Meadow
Lafourche Parish could lose 41 percent of its land over the next 50 years. This project aims to reverse the trend by creating 25,000 acres of marsh over the next two decades at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion.
In addition to land reclamation and ecological remediation, Stan’s specializes in pipeline right-of-way reclamation and maintenance, oil spill cleanup in wetlands and low-lying areas, debris removal and disaster search, rescue and recovery. Contact us for a quote now, and we’ll be in touch.