LDEQ has approved a Beneficial Environmental Project (BEP) proposed by the Port of Lake Charles. The BEP is available to channel users and others in LDEQ settlement discussions. Using the BEP ensures local funds will be spent in the region on projects with local benefits. To learn more about how to resolve your LDEQ violations, continue reading.
The Port of Lake Charles has an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to restore local wetlands and battered marshes by using dredged materials from the Calcasieu Ship Channel. The Port proposed to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) that this intergovernmental agreement be considered a Beneficial Environmental Project (BEP) under LDEQ regulations. The Port has received approval to do so.
The benefits of combining the BEP with the IGA are numerous. First, by using material dredged from the ship channel, the capacity of the upland disposal sites is saved for future use. Second, restoring wetlands will assist in offsetting coastal erosion and provides additional hurricane protection. Finally, the project will assist in maintaining authorized ship channel dimensions and furthermore smooth channel operation. The results will benefit both our region’s environment and the ship channel.
The BEP project allows local entities resolving an LDEQ violation or penalty assessment through a settlement to use the Port’s BEP as a means of insuring that local funds will be spent in the region on projects with local benefits.
Port of Lake Charles Executive Director Bill Rase said of the project, “We are taking another critical step to rebuild our coast and protect our citizens and our infrastructure. Using this dredge material is one of the fastest and most economical ways to restore our coastal wetlands.”
The Port of Lake Charles is the designated sponsor or “caretaker” of the Calcasieu Ship Channel, acting on behalf of the state. As such, one of the Port’s main responsibilities is to find proper disposal for the sediment dredged from the channel, so it will be wide and deep enough for international vessel traffic.
Finding proper disposal sites for the dredged material can be difficult. In the course of a year the material amounts to approximately 4 million cubic yards, which could build a hill approximately 15 to 20 ft. high, compromising 300 acres. Traditionally this material has been deposited in upland sites along the channel. The funding that may be provided by the BEP will allow much of the dredged material to be used to build marsh, using local dollars on local projects that benefit southwest Louisiana.