GULF OF MEXICO — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to shore up Mississippi’s Barrier Islands by pumping in some 20 million cubic yards of sand.
The corps disclosed plans at a public meeting in Biloxi.
The corps plans to close the Camille Cut and restore the southern shoreline of East Ship Island. Those two projects will encompass about 1,500 acres. The work will be done in five phases.
The restoration on Ship Island will cost about $363 million. The southwest corner of the island has already been restored.
A project to restore dunes and the beach on eastern Cat Island, which hinges on the federal government buying that part of the island from BP, would cost $20 million.
The corps also will try to correct mistakes that were made as the Pascagoula ship channel was dredged and that work could help replenish the island chain.
“There is sand that migrates along the system, you might hear people talk about the littoral system,” said Justin McDonald, chief engineer on the project. “The zone along these islands where sand moves actively, regularly.”
When the channel was dredged, about every 18 months, some of that sand was dumped outside the system and eventually built up what is known as Sand Island.
“One of the purposes of this project is to not only put sand back into the system, but also take a look at how we’re disposing of our dredge material to ensure we’re putting in the right place to be benefit the long-term health of the system,” McDonald said.
Sand Island will remain, the corps promised.
Corps’ official Susan Rees said the corps should start moving sand for the restoration projects late this year.