The Charles Lamar Family Foundation

Finding the right flow

Modeling current and future river needs to maintain fish and freshwater forest habitat in the Lake Maurepas basin

12 months

The Challenge

Estuaries, wetlands, and swamps depend upon the constant inflow of fresh water to sustain the ecosystem’s balance of plants and animals as well as provide recreational and economic opportunities for people. However, with demands on surface water increasing, there is a need to find what minimum amount of water needs to reach the estuary in order to keep the ecosystem healthy. In this pilot project for the Amite River, researchers also wanted to determine how forces such as sea level rise, subsidence and projects included in Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan could impact the river’s flow, both now and into the future.

The Approach

Using the Integrated Compartment Model developed by the Institute and partners for use in the 2017 Coastal Master Plan, Institute researchers used the model in a new way to determine how changes – either more water or less water – to the flow of the river would impact the estuary at Lake Maurepas.

This modeling looked at not only current conditions at the mouth of the Amite River in Lake Maurepas, but also provided a glimpse into 50-year future scenarios incorporating potential changes such as sea level rise, subsidence, the operation of future river diversions as well as construction of restoration and protection projects included in Louisiana’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan.

Through funding from the Charles Lamar Family Foundation, this project provided an integrated look at how the future of the Amite River could be impacted over time.