Restoration of the Barataria Basin Barrier Islands


  • Steven Thomas Kent Memorial University of Newfoundland


Coastal Engineering, ENGI 8751


Barataria Bay is located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, immediately south of New Orleans, LA. The southern half of the basin consists of approximately 1,900km2 of marshland and 600km2 of swampland. These wetlands are all connected to a large bay system, which is protected from the ocean via a system of four barrier islands. The basin has been experiencing significant losses of wetland habitat. Monitored loss from 1974 to 1990 is estimated at roughly 25km2 a year. These losses have been traced to two main contributing factors. The construction of flood water dykes along the Mississippi River has almost eliminated fresh water input into the wetlands, depriving the ecosystem of vital sediments, nutrients, and hydrologic influence. The other factor is the natural erosion of the barrier islands in the bay, as well as rising sea levels. This is resulting in an increase of salinity in the southern region of the basin. Following an ecological assessment and feasibility study in 2011, the government of Louisiana set a project in motion to restore and reinforce the integrity of the barrier islands in Barataria Bay. This paper will highlight the necessity of the project as well as the social and economic advantages. It shall also provide a description of the project, which involves the creation of protective ridges to resist natural erosion and the expansion of the diminished island areas. Such work has already been carried out on several of the barrier islands, with plans to complete similar projects within the basin. With the new barrier system intact it is hoped that the salinity of the wetlands can be maintained, and that the marsh ecosystem can be protected.

Author Biography

Steven Thomas Kent, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Undergraduate Student



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Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)