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Panel issues report on river diversion projects

BATON ROUGE, La. — The Expert Panel on Diversion Planning and Implementation, a group organized by The Water Institute of the Gulf to advise the state of Louisiana on river diversion projects on the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, has issued its initial report.

Panel members made recommendations on data collection, project modeling, the types of simulations and experiments that should be conducted and the need to appropriately communicate and coordinate with the public, stakeholders and policymakers.

“Given the unprecedented size and scope of these proposed restoration projects, the role of independent science and engineering will be critical during project planning and implementation,” said panel chairman John Wells, Ph.D., dean and director of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “We were impressed with the work presented to us, and we’re especially interested in understanding more about the ecological and social-economic effects of these proposed projects. We look forward to providing real-time advice and guidance that will be useful to the state as it advances these projects.”

The panel reports to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority on river diversion projects that are part of the state’s coastal master plan.

In its initial meeting held in January, panel members heard from the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as representatives of the Environmental Defense Fund, the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program.

The panel is expected to meet approximately three times a year. Its next meeting is scheduled for April 30 at the Lindy C. Boggs International Conference Center in New Orleans. The public is invited to attend.

The Water Institute of the Gulf is a not-for-profit, independent research institute dedicated to advancing the understanding of coastal, deltaic, river and water resource systems, both within the Gulf Coast and around the world.

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