As the Council for Dredging & Marine Construction Safety Pipeline Task Force meetings in New Orleans came to an end, attendees were invited by Weeks Marine for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – to learn firsthand from a dredger’s perspective about the challenges and successes of managing pipeline safety for the Barataria Basin Ridge and Marsh Creation Project.
Our morning started with dreary skies and a two-hour drive to Venice, Louisiana, “The Fishing Capitol of the World”. As they say about best laid plans, the skies opened and rain fell the entire morning. Getting out on the water was a fleeting idea because safety is paramount.
Although I didn’t board the vessel, I am amazed at what I have learned about the dredging industry and the Barataria Basin Ridge and Marsh Creation Project. This large-scale restoration strategy for the Barataria Basin will re-establish ridge and intertidal marsh habitats.
Funded by money resulting from the damages of an oil spill, allocated through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Act (NRDA), this restoration project is the largest marsh and ridge creation project in Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) history. The project will build over 1,500 acres of marsh and 132 acres of ridge, creating a total of 1,670 acres of habitat extending approximately 7.5 miles to the west from Venice, Louisiana. Weeks Marine will be dredging 10.7 million cubic yards of material from the Mississippi River just to the east of Venice and extending down river for 2.5 miles.
The project began in September 2021 and is expected to be completed in December 2022. To date, 40 species have returned to the area.