The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Mississippi Valley New Orleans (MVN) beneficially used a record shattering 30.5 million cubic yards (mcy) of dredged material in Fiscal Year 2021. The beneficially used sediment was removed by dredges performing channel maintenance in the area of Southwest Pass, in the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area and working on the historic project to deepen the Mississippi River Ship Channel to 50 feet. The Big River Coalition always highlights the importance of the beneficial use of dredged material and promoted figures provided by the USACE that estimated the deepening project would create approximately 1,500 acres of marsh.
The MVN recently confirmed new records for both the volume of sediment beneficially used and the acreage created with this sediment in Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021). An estimated 30.5 million cubic yards of material were beneficially used to create 2,334 acres in the environmentally sensitive birds-foot delta. The trend over the last decade has seen the USACE repeatedly break the record for the amount of beneficial use and acres restored.
The top six records for beneficial use (sediment recycling) in the U.S. have all occurred along the Mississippi River Ship Channel. The top four records were established in the last six fiscal years:
- 30.5 million cubic yards in FY 2021 were beneficially used during dredging the Ship Channel, deepening the Ship Channel and dredging the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area to restore 2,334 acres of wetlands.
- 24.2 million cubic yards in FY 2019 were beneficially utilized while dredging the Ship Channel and the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area to restore 1,724 acres of wetlands.
- 21.00 million cubic yards in FY 2015 were beneficially utilized while dredging the Ship Channel and the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area to restore 1,041 acres of wetlands.
- 20.70 million cubic yards in FY 2017 were beneficially utilized while dredging the Ship Channel and the Hopper Dredge Disposal Area to restore 1,468 acres of wetlands.
The acreage listed for FY 2021 is an estimate based on the utilization of 30.5 mcy of material. The MVN will at a later date confirm the actual acreage based on aerial photography and closer observation, but the cubic yardage listed is expected to increase slightly and the estimate for acreage created is based on conservative estimates.
The previous records for beneficial use were both established by projects that deepened the MRSC, a critical component of the deepening of the MRSC to 50 feet.
- 19.80 million cubic yards in FY 1961 attributed to the channel deepening from 35 to 40 feet.
- 18.50 million cubic yards in FY 1987 attributed to the channel deepening from 40 to 45 feet.
In the twelve years since 2009 approximately 13,035 acres of wetlands have been recreated/restored along the Mississippi River Delta. This critical acreage helps protect the Ship Channel and restores areas critical to the migratory bird flyway and provides habitat for land dwelling and aquatic species. This successful sediment management project has yielded the Largest Wetlands Restoration Project in the World and important lessons have been learned along the way. The adaptive approach to sediment management has been achieved by cooperative efforts led by the MVN with the support and partnership of the Big River Coalition, Bar Pilots, Crescent Pilots, Federal Pilots, Dredge Contractors, U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“LARGEST WETLANDS RESTORATION PROJECT IN THE WORLD” through the creation of 13,035 acres of wetlands this project is a model to be recognized for leading restoration and promoting collaborative efforts.
A second attachment is a table titled “LARGEST WETLANDS RESTORATION PROJECT IN THE WORLD” which documents the beneficial use acreage and details by fiscal year.
The increased acreage along the channel edges of Southwest Pass and the Ship Channel below Venice helps to fortify the extreme lower river from the impact of storm surge and the encroachment of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Big River Coalition would like to thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for their leadership and dedication to increase the beneficial use of dredged material for coastal restoration purposes. The support of the following parties is also critical to the success of this effort, specifically the Bar Pilots, Crescent Pilots, Federal Pilots, Dredge Contractors, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Please see the linked attachments for complete details and notice last year’s update is here.