DNR Basin Board Meets

On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, the governing body of the Atchafalaya Basin Program held a meeting to complete a draft of the 2011 Annual Plan for the Atchafalaya Basin Program. The Research and Promotion Board is the group designated by legislation to make decisions about the direction of the program and, based on the 2008 update of the Basin Program legislation, one of the main functions of the board is to review technical recommendations for projects and to decide which ones will be presented to the people in public hearings, then to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and ultimately, to the legislature for approval and, hopefully, funding.

In the November 4th meeting, Steve Chustz, acting Director of the Basin Program, presented the base plan to the Board. Glenn Constant, representing the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), which evaluates water projects for the Board, then presented a group of seven water management projects to the Board for consideration. Finally, Steve presented a list of ongoing access and recreation projects, which will be included in the plan, and which will be funded to the extent that funds are made available and up to the 25% limit allowed by the 2008 legislation. Seventy-five percent of all funding must be spent on Water Management and Access projects.

Part of Glenn Constant’s presentation included a demonstration of the use of the new Basin Inventory and Assessment Tool in the evaluation of proposed projects. The availability of layered data showing conditions in the Basin at varying River stages and times is already allowing the TAG to not only analyze the conditions in the areas proposed for modification, but to display those conditions to decision makers and to justify inclusion or rejection of specific projects. The accessibility of the tool also allows TAG members to review the situations with project proponents in order to clear up any disagreements about the conditions and effects of modifications.

Finally, the Basin Program not only has some solid reasoning behind its water management decisions, but our scientists can now demonstrate to us how they arrived at their conclusions. Pretty impressive stuff; and they say it will get better as they refine the tools.

The recommendations of the TAG and the Program Staff were incorporated into the draft and the Plan should be available soon on the Basin Web site. Public meetings are planned for November 19- 24 in Plaquemine, Henderson and Morgan City. More on that in the coming weeks.

It is important to participate in these meetings, if for no other reason than to see the results of the assessment tool and to see what the current thinking is on modifications to the Basin Hydrology. We are starting to see an overall approach to water management. We may actually have a Basin-wide water management plan yet.


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