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Coastal innovation Partnership program

The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) launched the Coastal Innovation Partnership Program (CIPP), administered by the Water Institute of the Gulf (the Institute), in 2013 with a goal of casting a wider net for new, cost-effective tools for use in implementing the state’s coastal master plan.

The CIPP allows interested participants to submit proposals for an opportunity to be screened through a two-tiered application process with hopes of receiving an “endorsement” that demonstrates the innovation is ready to be used. The goal is to identify innovative methods and technologies that can help lower the costs and reduce the time it takes to build projects as well as improving the project performance. It’s a vetting process that gives the state more confidence in new techniques while giving endorsed innovations a step up in a field that demands on-the-ground proof of success.

In the selection process, the Institute reviews preliminary, submitted applications and narrows down the list based on whether the innovations are ready to be used. This shorter list is then forwarded to an independent panel of nationally-recognized experts for review based on individual merits of each innovation to support, improve, or enhance the restoration and protection goals of the state’s master plan.

Between 2013 and 2015, the teams reviewed 91 submitted concepts resulting in endorsement of eight proposals including oyster reef building techniques, floating breakwaters, and vegetation shields to protect levees and embankments. The CIPP process remains available to be activated as needed.

Coastal Innovation Partnership Program endorsed innovations to date

The 2013 endorsed innovations:

Expanded Shale, Clay, and Slate is a Light-Weight Aggregate (ESCS-LWA) for Soft Armoring Levee Embankments Constructed from High Saline Soils
Jeffrey Beasley, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center Principal Investigator
Newer approaches are needed to reduce levee protection costs. Expanded shale, clay, and slate light-weight aggregate (ESCS-LWA) is an inorganic aggregate with a weight 35% of pea gravel. Slopes that have had ESCS-LWA applied at 100% coverage (just covering the soil) have shown reduced erosion, approximately 70% decreases in salinity and sodium, and increased vegetation establishment. ESCS-LWA provides extended protection to reduce splash erosion, slow water flow for greater infiltration and leaching, and maintain higher soil moisture. Over time, salts are leached in the upper 4 to 6 inches of soil to allow germination and growth of grass vegetation.

Amphibex Small Dredge
Bob Dew, Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Principal Investigator
The Amphibex is a family of self-propelled hydraulic dredging excavators. Its compact size and ability to be transported on a trailer makes it well suited for use on smaller restoration projects. During dredging operations, it is highly maneuverable using self-propulsion and stabilizers to position itself. The Amphibex also has the capability to perform other duties by exchanging its cutter head dredge for other attachments.

Improved Smooth Cordgrass and Sea Oats Varieties for Louisiana’s Unique Coastal Restoration Projects
Carrie A. Knott, LSU Agricultural Center
Principal Investigator

Incorporating smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora Loisel.) and sea oats (Uniola paniculata L.) plants into created and restored areas will stabilize soil, create functionally equivalent ecosystems, and reduce coastal erosion in brackish and saline marshes and beaches, respectively. Smooth cordgrass and sea oats are perennial grasses native to the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts and are incorporated into Louisiana’s coastal restoration projects. To increase the genetic diversity of smooth cordgrass and sea oats varieties, long-term breeding programs for both species were initiated. The improved smooth cordgrass varieties are recommended for brackish to saline marsh restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico coast, while the improved sea oats varieties are recommended for beach restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico coast.

Barrier Island and Barrier Headland Breach Management Planning
Jon Staiger, Coastal Engineering Consultants, Inc.
Principal Investigator

The innovation proposed is to develop and implement a system-wide plan for dealing with barrier island and barrier headland breaching, addressing both breaching prevention and response to breaches when they occur. A recent analysis of coastal restoration projects has demonstrated that breaching of barrier islands and headland beaches leads to significant increases in erosion rates. To be most effective, breach management should be a system- or reach-wide endeavor and not focused on individual barriers. The breach management plan should include development of adaptive management decision criteria to be used to determine if immediate responses are necessary. Post-event (extratropical storm, tropical storm, and hurricane) data gathering/monitoring to check for breaches should be a mandatory component of the plan. The planning process must include location of suitable borrow sites for breach fill sediment, fill alternatives such as large sandbag barriers and geotextile devices, arrangements for rapid deployment of suitable dredging equipment, and estimates of ranges of costs for selected alternatives matched to the vulnerable barrier shoreline reaches.

The 2014 endorsed innovations:

BioHaven® Floating Breakwaters
Martin Ecosystems, LLC
Principal Investigator

BioHaven® Floating Breakwaters act as a floating wetland and function in the upper part of the water column in which much of the wave energy is concentrated. The structures effectively reduce wave height and energy in the lee of the structure by reflecting wave energy and dissipating kinetic energy of incoming waves.

Geologic Framework Preservation Through Innovative Reef Building
Coastal Environments Inc.
Principal Investigator
ReefBlk™ vertical oyster reefs have reduced wave-induced shoreline erosion rates of highly organic marsh platforms in coastal Louisiana and elsewhere along the northern Gulf of Mexico. This innovation advances the use of ReefBlk™ vertical oyster reef one step further through the design of micro-ecosystems that will enhance wave attenuation and sediment-trapping performance, while also serving to create a naturally hardened shoreline through the use of cultch and natural oyster shell distribution within the near-shore, tidal zones, and fringing marsh platform.

The 2015 endorsed innovations:

HydroTurf™ Advanced Revetment Technology
Watershed Geosynthetics LLC

Principal Investigator
HydroTurf Technology was developed as an engineered revetment solution for protecting the landward side of levees and embankments from wave overtopping. It is a unique fiber-reinforced concrete revetment solution consisting of a high-friction, impermeable geomembrane layer with an integrated drainage layer overlain by an engineered synthetic turf.

Vegetated EcoShield™
Martin Ecosystems
Principal Investigator
Vegetated EcoShield™ is an environmentally efficient product that protects existing shorelines and stabilizes banks, while promoting vegetative growth and ultimately creating a “living shoreline.” By providing a protective medium for vegetation to establish, grow and spread, this innovative product compliments flood protection projects by protecting and extending the life of levee systems. It also enhances the natural processes of the system by creating vegetative shorelines and coastal habitats for waterfowl, wildlife, and aquatic life.

For more information, contact us at info@thewaterinstitute.org