The purpose of the USACE Joint Public Notice was to solicit input regarding the following areas of concern:
Conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.
In summary, St. Bernard Parish Government expressed the following concerns:
- The permit application includes an increase of the maximum proposed discharge to 75,000 cubic feet/second (CFS), although the State Master Plan only calls for 35,000 CFS.
- The proposed project will likely have adverse impacts to water quality throughout the basin.
- The proposed project will alter or destroy at least 7,530 acres of Essential Fish Habitat in jurisdictional wetlands and waterways and adversely impact marine mammals and at least six (6) endangered or threatened species. A number of significant commercial and recreational species will also be devastated, including oysters, shrimp, fish, and crabs.
- The initial land loss associated with the proposed project will increase storm surge risk in coastal communities.
- The permit applicant has historically failed to properly operate other diversion structures, including the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion.
- The land-building capacity of the proposed project has likely been overestimated given historic changes to the sediment budget in the Mississippi River.
- St. Bernard Parish has historically been adversely impacted (both environmentally and economically) by failed public infrastructure projects such as the MRGO and hurricane protection levees, and was recently devastated by Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil spill. Consequently, the community is unwilling to accept the new environmental and economic risks associated with the proposed project.
St. Bernard Parish Government has formally requested a public hearing regarding the proposed project. The full text of the parish’s response to the Joint Public Notice can be found at www.sbpg.net under the Coastal Department.