All is not lost along the Louisiana coast where some new land ha - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

All is not lost along the Louisiana coast where some new land has been created

A satellite image shows the Wax Lake Delta southwest of Morgan City (NASA) A satellite image shows the Wax Lake Delta southwest of Morgan City (NASA)
(WVUE) -

Along the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain east of the Twin Span Bridge, a dredge carves away at the lake bottom.

A pipe delivers another type of black gold, mud that has pieced back together 600 acres of shoreline wiped out in Hurricane Katrina.

"For future storms that might, God forbid, come into this area, we needed that protection," said Johnny Bradberry, Chairman of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

The land comes courtesy of "CWPPRA," the Coastal Planning, Protection and Restoration Act of 1980.

CWPPRA, pronounced "Kwip-rah," created a state and federal task force that spends roughly $30 million to $80 million a year in funding dedicated to coastal projects. 

Over the past 30 years, CWPPRA has served as a sort of template for coastal restoration, funding some of the earliest projects along Louisiana's battered coastline.

Since the inception of CWPPRA, 210 coastal restoration and projection projects have been authorized, benefiting approximately 100,000 acres according to state officials. 

Since 1932, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates Louisiana has lost nearly 2,000 acres of land, an area roughly equivalent to the size of Delaware. 

However, all is not lost.

In some rare spots on the map, new land has formed over recent decades, sometimes in large enough patches to be detected in satellite images.

The most notable among them is along two waterways, one natural and one man-made, south of Morgan City.

At the mouth of the Atchafalaya River, dredging projects have created new islands along the riverbanks.

However, coastal scientists get more excited about an accidental delta to the west of the river.

In 1942, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dug the Wax Lake Outlet, a channel from the Atchafalaya to the Gulf of Mexico, a shortcut designed to take about 30 percent of the Atchafalaya's flow and spare Morgan City from flooding.

By the late 1970s, scientists began noticing landform at the mouth of that channel.

Scientists say smaller, but similar deltas can be seen on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish in some of the few places where the river runs free of levees. 

In Cubit's Gap near the mouth of the Mississippi, a cut in the river has steadily built land since the 1870s.

"We can actually build more resilient wetlands using the river, using the sediments in the river to sustain the wetlands that we have into the future," said Natalie Peyronnin, Director of Science Policy for the Environmental Defense Fund's Mississippi River restoration efforts. 

Many commercial fishermen fear the state's plans to divert massive amounts of fresh river water into the marsh will damage fisheries.

However, there are less controversial projects that have also served to reshape the coastline.

From the mouth of the Mississippi to Port Fourchon, roughly 30 miles of barrier islands have been restored in recent years through dredging projects.

Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly