No part of the state’s Coastal Master Plan has raised more questions than the river diversions planned south of New Orleans, which would carry sediment-laden freshwater into sinking wetlands.

Local residents can ask those questions Tuesday when a committee advising the governor on coastal restoration meets in New Orleans.

The agenda includes updates from Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority personnel on the progress of the diversion plans, designs of the structures and coordination with federal agencies.

Those reports will be followed by a period for public comment.

River diversions are the centerpiece of the state’s plan to rebuild its sinking, eroding coastline. In the last few years, some fishing groups have opposed diversions because they worry the influx of freshwater will drive away shrimp, oysters and saltwater prey.

Instead, they want to rebuild wetlands by dredging sediment from the river and piping it to the wetlands. Right now, the state is spending more money on those projects than diversions, but engineers have concluded dredge and fill projects would cost too much to rebuild large areas of the coast.

The 2012 master plan laid out six possible locations for diversions. Since then, the state has moved forward with two. Another two farther downriver have been postponed because engineers don’t know if they will be effective given how fast land is sinking and sea levels are rising.

Tuesday’s meeting will take place at Tulane’s ByWater Institute, 1380 Port of New Orleans Place. It starts at 10 a.m.

The state is also holding a series of meetings to get public input on the next revision for the master plan to rebuild the coast.

Bob Marshall

From 2013 to 2017, Bob Marshall covered environmental issues for The Lens, with a special focus on coastal restoration and wetlands. While at The Times-Picayune, his work chronicling the people, stories...