Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program

Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary System Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2020

Nine months

The Challenge

Coastal land loss in Louisiana, despite the best efforts of scientists, planners, and residents, is expected to continue. According to the State of Louisiana, if no action is taken, as much as 4,123 square miles of land could be lost within the next 50 years, in addition to the nearly 1,900 square miles of land area lost between 1932 and 2019. The greatest potential impacts of future land loss in coastal Louisiana occurs in locations where physical vulnerability coincides with concentrations of population, infrastructure, and natural resources, including fisheries.

The Approach

Working in partnership with the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP), the Water Institute undertook a nine-month strategic planning process set out in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-based Adaptation Plan” to identify potential climate change risks, analyze the estuary’s vulnerability in the face of these risks, and develop a plan of action to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The Water Institute developed a list of risks resulting from climate change stressors that could prevent BTNEP from accomplishing its goals and categorized individual risk into specific areas: Consequences, likelihood, spatial extent, and time scale of impact. From this, the Water Institute developed a risk matrix to evaluate each task and developed a series of potential adaptation actions to mitigate identified risks. The Water Institute worked with BTNEP to host a workshop with key stakeholders to leverage local expertise and refine adaptation actions. The workshop and corresponding stakeholder engagement efforts were geared toward fostering local ownership of the strategies and conceptual designs resulting from the strategic process.

The report was completed in 2020 and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2021. It includes an analysis of the vulnerability of the Barataria-Terrebonne estuarine system and a plan of action to mitigate and address the most locally pertinent climate change risks.