Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority

Lowermost Mississippi River Management Program

The Water Institute is providing science and technical coordination support to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) as they advance the Lowermost Mississippi River Management Program, which aims to identify and evaluate holistic management strategies for the Lowermost Mississippi River (LMR).

The Challenge

The Mississippi River has been traditionally managed under three separate “business lines”: Navigation, flood protection, and ecosystem restoration. Although management strategies for each are typically based on the individual priorities of that business line, all rely on effective management of the same two parameters: water and sediment. Under this project, holistic management strategies for sediment and water are being identified that can potentially benefit all stakeholders across a variety of needs.

The Approach

As part of this effort, the Institute is working closely with CPRA and stakeholders to identify a suite of management strategies that balance navigation, ecological, and flood risk reduction interests on the LMR. In addition, the Institute is developing the conceptual design of a technical framework and decision support tool capable of examining the outcomes, costs, and benefits of these holistic management strategies under a range of future environmental scenarios such as sea level rise and changes in the river hydrograph. These tools will allow decision-makers to conduct “what-if” scenarios as a first step in evaluating potential strategies (restoration projects, diversions, navigation maintenance dredging needs) as part of holistic LMR management approach.

Stakeholder engagement has included federal agencies including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; state agencies including Department of Transportation and Development, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources; and private organizations including the navigation community, the academic community, and non-governmental organizations.