Pipeline Will Aid Sabine Marsh Restoration

A contract awarded April 13 for a permanent pipeline to carry dredged material from the Calcasieu River Ship Channel to the marshes in Cameron and Calcasieu parishes will make it easier and less expensive to restore the marshes in Louisiana. The Corps of Engineers awarded the $9-million contract to Wilco Pipeline Contractors, LLC of Rayne, La.

Wilco will begin work on the 3.6 mile-long pipeline this summer and expects to complete the work in the summer of 2010.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) project includes the construction of the permanent pipeline and the creation of four marsh creation sites, two of which have been constructed from material dredged from the Calcasieu River Ship Channel. The 907-acre marsh restoration effort in the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge is located in Cameron Parish west of Highway 27 in large open water areas that had been vegetated marsh.

The Corps of Engineers, Louisiana Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been working on plans to restore the marsh since 1999. The first marsh creation site was constructed in 2002.

“This area is experiencing marsh degradation from saltwater intrusion and freshwater loss,” said Fay Lachney, the Corps project manager for the CWPPRA Sabine Refuge Marsh Creation project.

“We plan to install the permanent pipeline along the same route that previous temporary lines have taken to reduce the environmental impacts of the work,” Lachney said. She added that by installing the permanent pipe the Corps and its partners will save approximately $2 million each time they pump material into the marsh.

The Corps will use material from maintenance dredging in the Calcasieu River Ship Channel to create at least 200 acres of new marsh each time they dredge the channel for the next 20 years, Lachney explained.