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The 2012 Coastal Master Plan

The State of Louisiana’s 2012 Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast is a 50-year, $50 billion plan to combat the collapsing coast. The Plan was developed through a ground-breaking technical effort and extensive public outreach. It recognizes that management of the Mississippi River and Delta is a complex problem, requiring multiple strategies, tools, and techniques to substantially improve risk reduction to communities and make strides toward building a sustainable ecosystem that is resilient over time. Changing Course is intended to be parallel, synergistic, and additive to Louisiana’s ongoing official master planning efforts and project implementation.

The Plan identified and analyzed a variety of restoration projects that have the potential to reduce flood risk and build new land or sustain existing lands. Almost 400 discrete projects were evaluated and 109 were selected for further development over a 50-year period, ranging from sediment diversions to building modifications. To realize these projects, the Plan projects a funding need of roughly $50 billion, evenly dividing the allocation of proposed funds between restoration projects and structural and non-structural flood protection projects.

Projects the Plan identified as having the strongest land-building benefits include “channel realignment,” which in combination with upstream sediment diversions could potentially capture and utilize most of the River’s sediment load for land-building. While the Plan described alignment options conceptually, it did not evaluate the physical feasibility of designing one or more interventions, but instead acknowledged the desirability of having a plan sufficiently developed and tested to be eligible for inclusion in the 2017 Master Plan: “There is significant uncertainty about how to build a channel realignment project. However, a project that has such large land-building benefits warrants further evaluation, and the State is committed to undertaking this process.”

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