Optimizing Sediment Diversion Operations: Working Group Recommendations for Integrating Complex Ecological and Social Landscape Interactions
2. Materials and Methods
3.1. Objectives of a Sediment Diversion
3.1.1. Land-Building Objective
3.1.2. Secondary Objective
3.2. Hydrograph Typologies
3.3. Initial Operations
3.3.1. Geology and Hydrodynamics
3.3.2. Habitats and Fish and Wildlife Species
3.4. Winter Operations
3.4.1. Geology and Hydrodynamics
3.4.2. Habitats and Fish and Wildlife Species
3.5. Spring and Summer Operations
3.5.1. Geology and Hydrodynamics
3.5.3. Fish and Wildlife Species
- The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) prefers fresh marshes and will cease feeding over 10 parts per thousand (ppt) . Sediment diversions are anticipated to increase the habitat quality and quantity for the alligator. Initial operations do not have to be as concerned as most of the outfall area is currently intermediate and brackish marsh, but the population will grow over time as more fresh habitats are created. American alligators can be negatively affected by water depths or stressed vegetation during the nesting season (mid-May to early September) . Once a substantial population establishes, future operational strategies will need to consider minimizing extensive flooding during the nesting season, although the loss of a single year of nesting will not be detrimental to the entire population .
- Blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) in Barataria basin account for 18% of the state harvest  and have specific salinity requirements for various stages of their life cycle. Diversion operations should be most concerned with minimizing affects to mating females in March to May and during the peak spawning period, August to September . Any estuarine recovery in May could also facilitate larval recruitment into Barataria basin .
- The Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is a sessile animal that relies on distinct salinity regimes. The ideal mean salinity from May to September for subtidal oysters is 10 to 20 ppt  although 5 to 15 ppt is commonly used for an annual range. High salinity limitations (>20 ppt) are not a physiological response, but a predator and disease response. Extended low salinity (<5 ppt) during hot summer months (>25 °C) significantly affect oyster recruitment, survival and growth [95,96,97]. Oyster reefs can survive fresh water inputs in the winter months as long as the diversion operations are reduced or ceased by March. Occasionally, episodic flood events (every 3 to 5 years) during the spring or summer can cause high mortality that could potentially benefit oyster populations and reef health by reducing predator pressure, reducing the occurrence of disease, and providing shell for reefs to rebuild .
- Diversions will increase habitats for most wetland mammals, including important fur-bearing species and invasive animals, as well as waterfowl and other water birds. Diversions will lead to increased habitat quality, quantity, and diversity, including submerged aquatic vegetation (SAVs). Increased nutrients from diversion operations are likely to result in increased marsh damage from invasive species, such as nutria and feral hogs [99,100] and management programs may need to be expanded to address the increased herbivory. In addition, some species of birds nest on or just above the marsh surface in the spring and summer, which could be disrupted by a rapid rising of water level elevations from the opening of a diversion. Most species would re-nest if water levels recede within the nesting season (March to July), but even if they do not, other years without spring/summer flooding could offset losses during flood years.
- White shrimp (Litopenaeus setiferus) seem to be more euryhaline than brown shrimp and able to tolerate lower salinities . Diversion operations with minimal to no flow during summer to early fall should not affect offshore spawning of white shrimp, although spawning can occur in nearshore Gulf waters. Additionally, such minimal to no flow will likely have minimal effect on postlarvae recruitment, which occurs mostly in June and July, and juvenile development from July to December . Over the past few decades, the relative abundance of brown to white shrimp has varied based on environmental conditions and fishing pressure. Potentially, diversion operations could shift the relative abundance and commercial influences to more white shrimp than brown shrimp.
- Barataria basin accounts for 44% of the inshore brown shrimp (Farfantepenaeus aztecus) harvest in Louisiana . Diversion operations are unlikely to affect brown shrimp spawning which occurs further offshore, however postlarvae shrimp migrate inshore from February to April and spend March to July in the estuary as juveniles. If opened in late winter to early spring, a sediment diversion could have an effect on postlarvae recruitment into the estuary unless the diversion closing and estuary salinity recovery was timed with recruitment stages.
Conflicts of Interest
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|Meeting Topic||Date||Parameters Discussed|
|River Hydrology and Sediment Loads||16 September 2015||River flow, stage, velocity, flood peaks, trajectory, sediment concentrations, discharge, sediment transport and budget, sediment-water ratios (SWR), atmospheric conditions, climate change|
|Basin Geology and Land-Building||16 October 2015||Delta development (channel evolution, progradation, aggradation, subsidence), seasonal sedimentation, sediment transport, diversion discharge, velocity, sediment retention, cold fronts, turbidity, topography, bathymetry, soil salinity, substrate, erodibility, shear stress/strength|
|Water Quality||20 November 2015||Hydrodynamics, residence time, discharge, salinity, temperature, nutrients (flux, load), hypoxia, phytoplankton production, harmful algal blooms, sediment, turbidity, flocculation, disease, pathogens, hormones, pharmaceuticals, cold fronts|
|Wetland Health||14 December 2015||Habitat types, estuarine salinity gradients, saltwater intrusion, elevation, vegetation, salinity, invasive vegetation species, sediment (input, quality, composition), bulk density, nutrient loading rates, vegetative biomass, nitrogen availability and uptake, phosphorus, sulfates/sulfides, temperature, respiration rates, duration of flooding, growing season, vegetation stress, saltwater spikes|
|Fish and Wildlife Species||13 January 2016||Trophic productivity, salinity, species/community composition, dietary ranges, niche breadth, predator/prey relationships, species distribution, estuarine salinity gradients, habitat quality/value, species abundance, nutrients, water depth, sediment input, fish productivity, eutrophication, fishing practices, life cycles, fishing pressure, mortality, habitat requirements, indicator species|
|Communities, User Groups and Socio-Economics||17 February 2016||Economic value, river flow, stage, distributary width, discharge, flood risk, subsidence, sea level rise, storm seasons/surge, tides, salinity, turbidity, temperature, channelization, winds, velocity, elevation, transition costs, compensation, mitigation, sack and seed oyster fisheries, private and public oyster beds, leasing program, oyster cultch, shrimp production, blue crab stock, social behavior, politics, community adaptation, trust|
|Operational Strategies||14 March 2016||Hydrograph typologies and various operational strategies|
|Governance, Legal and Stakeholder Involvement||13 April 2016||Property rights, negligence, eminent domain, inverse condemnation, oyster lease acquisition and compensation programs, oyster lease dynamics, flow capacity, flow easements, salinity gradients, land trusts, public ownership, conservation easements, advisory groups, frontloading impacts, insurance, decision-making framework, transparency, trust, role of stakeholders, agencies and public officials in operations decisions|
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Peyronnin, N.S.; Caffey, R.H.; Cowan, J.H.; Justic, D.; Kolker, A.S.; Laska, S.B.; McCorquodale, A.; Melancon, E.; Nyman, J.A.; Twilley, R.R.; et al. Optimizing Sediment Diversion Operations: Working Group Recommendations for Integrating Complex Ecological and Social Landscape Interactions. Water 2017, 9, 368. https://doi.org/10.3390/w9060368
Peyronnin NS, Caffey RH, Cowan JH, Justic D, Kolker AS, Laska SB, McCorquodale A, Melancon E, Nyman JA, Twilley RR, et al. Optimizing Sediment Diversion Operations: Working Group Recommendations for Integrating Complex Ecological and Social Landscape Interactions. Water. 2017; 9(6):368. https://doi.org/10.3390/w9060368Chicago/Turabian Style
Peyronnin, Natalie S., Rex H. Caffey, James H. Cowan, Dubravko Justic, Alexander S. Kolker, Shirley B. Laska, Alex McCorquodale, Earl Melancon, John A. Nyman, Robert R. Twilley, and et al. 2017. "Optimizing Sediment Diversion Operations: Working Group Recommendations for Integrating Complex Ecological and Social Landscape Interactions" Water 9, no. 6: 368. https://doi.org/10.3390/w9060368