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MRGO Congressional Authority

MRGO Operations and Maintenance Appropriation

Following Hurricane Katrina, the United States Congress passed two laws providing funds for actions relating to the MRGO navigation channel. Chapter 3, under Division B of Title I of the Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006 (Public Law 109-148) provided $75,000,000 for operation and maintenance (O&M) activities along the MRGO. Section 2304 of Chapter 3 in Title II of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 (Public Law 109-234) clarified that these funds were to be used for “the repair, construction or provision of measures or structures necessary to protect, restore or increase wetlands, to prevent saltwater intrusion or storm surge.”

The plan for expenditures of supplemental O&M funds consists of wetland protection and marsh creation projects in the broken marsh area south of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (the Golden Triangle), and wetlands creation in the land bridge between Lake Borgne and the MRGO. In addition, it has been determined that funds can be used for the closure of the MRGO (including a closure structure at Bayou La Loutre, disposition of real estate easements, and removal of Aids to Navigation) and for developing the MRGO Ecosystem Restoration Plan.

The following are activities that are being funded by the $75 million O&M appropriation and that are completed or in process:

  • Lake Borgne Wetlands Protection – Work includes the construction of rock foreshore dikes along the Lake Borgne shoreline from Doullut’s Canal to Jahncke’s Ditch. Contract award was in September 2006 (only $360,000 of the contract award was from the $75 million O&M appropriation). Construction was competed in July 2008. This project feature is in the process of being transferred to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority for long-term operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, and replacement responsibilities.

  • MRGO at Shell Beach Wetlands Protection – Work includes the construction of new rock foreshore dikes along the MRGO from Miles 39.9 to 44.4. The construction contract was awarded in August 2007 for $4.8 million. Construction was competed in April 2008. This project feature was de-authorized in place pursuant to the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 when the MRGO Deep-Draft De-authorization Report was transmitted to Congress.

  • MRGO Closure Structure – Work includes the construction of a rock closure structure across the MRGO channel at Bayou La Loutre. The construction contract was awarded in November 2008 for $13.62 million. The anticipated completion date is July 2009. The project feature will then be turned over to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority for long-term operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation, and replacement responsibilities.

  • MRGO Disposition of Easements – The disposition of MRGO channel easements from the GIWW to the Gulf of Mexico will begin after completion of the MRGO Closure Structure. The estimated cost is $130,000.

  • The MRGO Ecosystem Restoration Plan Feasibility Study is being funded from the $75 million O&M appropriation. The study began in August 2008.

Remaining funds will be used for a combination of wetlands protection and wetlands creation projects in the Golden Triangle and MRGO area. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO), Louisiana, and Lake Borgne – Wetland Creation and Shoreline Protection Project was published in June 2009 and addresses these projects. Environmental clearance is scheduled for July 2009. It is anticipated that advertisement and award of the construction contracts to build these project features will occur in the August 2009 thru March 2010 timeframe. The Draft EIS includes the following project features:

  • Golden Triangle Marsh Creation and Nourishment – Estimated construction cost $18M (1,250 acres created; 1,400 acres nourished).

  • Shell Beach Vicinity Marsh Creation and Nourishment – Estimated construction cost $10M (425 acres created; 270 acres nourished).

  • Lake Borgne Shoreline Protection, Bayou Bienvenue Vicinity – Estimated construction cost $8M (186 acres protected).

  • Lake Borgne Shoreline Protection, Bayou Dupre Vicinity – Estimated construction cost $8M (142 acres protected).

  • Lake Borgne Shoreline Protection, West of Shell Beach – Estimated construction cost $8M (194 acres protected).


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