Evaluating trade-offs of a large, infrequent sediment diversion for restoration of a forested wetland in the Mississippi delta
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Flood control levees cut off the supply of sediment to Mississippi delta coastal wetlands, and contribute to putting much of the delta on a trajectory for continued submergence in the 21st century. River sediment diversions have been proposed as a method to provide a sustainable supply of sediment to the delta, but the frequency and magnitude of these diversions needs further assessment. Previous studies suggested operating river sediment diversions based on the size and frequency of natural crevasse events, which were large (>5000 m3/s) and infrequent (active < once a year) in the last naturally active delta. This study builds on these previous works by quantitatively assessing tradeoffs for a large, infrequent diversion into the forested wetlands of the Maurepas swamp. Land building was estimated for several diversion sizes and years inactive using a delta progradation model. A benefit-cost analysis (BCA) combined model land building results with an ecosystem service valuation and estimated costs. Results demonstrated that land building is proportional to diversion size and inversely proportional to years inactive. Because benefits were assumed to scale linearly with land gain, and costs increase with diversion size, there are disadvantages to operating large diversions less often, compared to smaller diversions more often for the immediate project area. Literature suggests that infrequent operation would provide additional gains (through increased benefits and reduced ecosystem service costs) to the broader Lake Maurepas-Pontchartrain-Borgne ecosystem. Future research should incorporate these additional effects into this type of BCA, to see if this changes the outcome for large, infrequent diversions.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Rutherford, J., Day, J., D'Elia, C., Wiegman, A., Willson, C., Caffey, R., Shaffer, G., Lane, R., & Batker, D. (2018). Evaluating trade-offs of a large, infrequent sediment diversion for restoration of a forested wetland in the Mississippi delta. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 80-89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2018.01.016