Stakeholder engagement and conflict resolution in managing sediment for a sustainable ecosystem restoration

Syed Khalil and Gregory Grandy, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, Baton Rouge, LA, United States
Offshore sediment resources are critical in fulfilling the State of Louisiana’s’ commitment to implement the Coastal Master Plan to save rapidly disappearing Louisiana’s complex and fragile ecosystem and protect more than 2 million people. With impending relative sea level rise and storm intensities, the quantity of sediment needed for ecosystem restoration will significantly increase, and at the same time the accessibility to the offshore sediment resources, will become more challenging. Restoration of coastal Louisiana under changing environmental conditions faces a two-pronged challenge: 1) restoration and protection projects must be robust enough (using adequate and suitable sediment) to counter varying future environmental scenarios; and 2) the quantity of sediment resources available for critical restoration projects is likely to decrease, rendering the dredging and utilization of the sediment resources more difficult and costly. Louisiana Sediment Management Plan (LASMP) identifies and delineates potential sediment sources for restoration and provides a framework for managing sediment resources wisely, cost effectively, and in a systematic manner. To maximize the availability of offshore sediment, the State is collaborating with Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in the removal of decommissioned pipelines and avoiding the installation of new pipelines over identified offshore significant sediment resources areas which would otherwise be available for restoration projects. Such collaborations offer opportunities to resolve conflicts between the sediment needs to restore and protect coastal ecosystems and the proximity of these resources to oil and gas infrastructure. The other areas of collaboration includes the possibilities of reusing infilled borrow areas, monitor the environmental impacts of borrow areas, and development of a robust offshore sediment inventory to update the sediment inventory as well as the Surficial Sediment Distribution Maps.