The swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin are considered the most productive swamps in the world and Grand Lake is the most important estuary for fish in the Eastern Atchafalaya Basin. The Atchafalaya Basin is losing deep water habitat at an alarming rate, without deep water habitat, fish do not have a place to live during the low water season, putting in jeopardy much of the Basin productivity. Excessive sediment and contorted distribution of sediments is the greatest threat to the survival of the Atchafalaya Basin.
Most pipelines cross the entire Atchafalaya Basin east to west and as they cross the Atchafalaya River (sediment source) a plug (dam) is built to prevent the pipeline for carrying sediment into deep swamps, lakes and bayous. During the 2011 flood, such a plug on a pipeline owned by Enterprise started to collapse. Local fishermen contacted the company, Enterprise send two individuals to visit the site, they acknowledged that the plug was going to fail but Enterprise refused to take any action to prevent it. Eventually the plug washed away the following year and for years was left open creating a 17-acre island on Grand Lake. Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR), instead of demanding that Enterprise fix the damage, applied for a permit for removing the island by suction-dredging the sand back into the river to be carried to the coast at tax-payers expense. However, that was not enough for Enterprise; the company saw an opportunity to get the state to bury their now exposed pipe for free, so they convinced LDNR to use the dredged material to fill the pipeline canal instead of dumping the dredged material back into the river as required by their permit posted on public notice. The Corps allowed LDNR to modify the permit to fill the pipeline canal without putting it back for public notice as required by the law. The dredging company did much of the dredging during high water and much of the liquid sand-mud flowed freely into wetlands filling them with sediment. To make matters worse, LDNR decided that it was to expensive to remove the entire island and left a strip of land that will slow the current of muddy water coming from the north and eventually will fill parts of Grand Lake again.
AUDIO FROM PUBLIC HEARING 2016
"This is the recordings from the 2016 public hearing in Bayou Sorrel and Henderson. The first part is Bayou Sorrel. Henderson starts on 2:14 hours on the recording. Mayor of Henderson talks about silting the Basin, time on the recording 2:30. TNC project conversation in Henderson starts at 2:14 on the recording. Jody did an incredible speech, time on the recording 3:15. Don Haydel said that 100% of the people contacted opposed the project but if they can get the blessing from the legislators and the permit from the Corps they will move forward, time on the recording 4:18.50 The truth is not a choice. Dean “