EDITORIAL: The kind of project we need
The Daily Comet
Terrebonne Parish officials are hoping that BP money is able to boost the chances of completing a sediment pipeline that will one day help build land in Terrebonne Parish with material taken from the Atchafalaya River.
They are hiring engineers to move ahead with plans for the project, which means it will just be waiting on the money necessary to bring it to life.
The idea has been in the works for years. And it is a plan that promises to be a winning proposition for Terrebonne - which will benefit from vital land-building material - and for St. Mary - which has to dredge the material from the river to keep it passable.
Right now, the sediment piles up at the mouth of the Atchafalaya, where it is in the way. Ideally, it will be used for protective land masses in Terrebonne.
It is exactly the kind of project that needs to get off the ground. Take the extra material from where it creates a problem and put it where it can contribute to a solution.
Terrebonne is energetically pursuing the goal. And the project has already gotten help and money from the state.
Now, local officials are hoping BP money helps it on its way.
"This sediment pipeline from the Atchafalaya is one of the most important projects for us to get working on," said Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet. "It's going to help us provide sediment to some really important areas."
To get the project in motion, though, will take a significant stream of money, just the kind of money that the Restore Act promised to bring to coastal Louisiana.
The federal law will direct most of the fines BP pays for its 2010 oil spill toward the five Gulf Coast states, and Louisiana will get a large share.
That means coastal projects such as this sediment-moving pipeline will go from pipe dreams to real possibilities.
The war we are fighting to remain along the coast rather than being forced inland by the encroaching Gulf and the sinking land will depend on halting erosion and rebuilding some of the land that once protected us.
Coastal experts say a big part of the solution will be building diversion projects that will funnel fresh water from the Mississippi and other rivers to the coast where they can help nourish wetlands. Another big part, though, will be land building with projects like the sediment pipeline.
Terrebonne's coastal leaders deserve a lot of credit for doing the hard work on this project. Now that some money for it might be in sight, local home and business owners are that much closer to enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Let us all hope this is a sign of even better things to come.