Design work to begin on Terrebonne Parish sediment pipeline project

Sediment would build land outside the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system

Design work on a billion-dollar sediment pipeline project in Terrebonne Parish is expected to begin soon.

Last month the parish awarded a roughly $500,000 design contract to CB&I Coastal Inc. to draw up plans for the borrow site on the Atchafalaya River, intake structures, the pipeline corridor and pumps locations and structures.

According to a report in the Thibodaux Daily Comet, Terrebonne Parish Coastal Restoration Director Nicholas Matherne said this stage of the project is to ensure it is “shovel-ready” when BP oil spill-related money becomes available.

Once the contract with CB&I is signed, the final engineering report is expected to be complete within 18 months.

According to the early project vision, the pipeline will draw 5 million cubic yards of sand each year from the bed of the Atchafalaya River south of Morgan City through a 50-mile-long system of pipes and booster pumps and into Terrebonne Parish.

The sediment would be pumped in to rebuild coastline in problem zones outside the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system.

“The design will terminate at two end points, one around the Bay Raccourci area in western-central Terrebonne and another south of Falgout Canal between Bayou Dularge and the Houma Navigation Canal,” Matherne said. “This stage of the design will not look at placement sites themselves. The design of placement sites will be determined later by whatever funding stream we can identify to pay for actual construction.”

Since litigation is still pending, Mathern said it is unclear when oil spill settlement money will come through. But, he said there should be a judgment regarding the pending Clean Water Act trial by the end of the summer.

“But that doesn’t mean a check automatically gets cut. BP could potentially tie this trial up in courts for years with appeals,” Matherne said.

U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier recently ruled that 3.19 million barrels of oil spilled during the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Matherne estimated that the settlement would range from $3.5 billion to $13.7 billion depending on the judge’s ruling on the company’s negligence in the incident.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thibodaux Daily Comet Staff Writer Chris Leblanc filed this report.

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