Residents got a chance today to learn more about freshwater diversions to restore the coast during a meeting about two projects that will affect the region in the next decade.

The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority meeting at Port Fourchon was an informal, open-house style way for officials to address concerns or answer questions about the Mid-Barataria and Mid-Breton Sediment Diversions, which are both part of the coastal master plan.

"These two projects will be the first controlled sediment diversions reconnecting the Mississippi River with its delta," the CPRA said in its request for engineering and design proposals in October.

The projects, which will be physically located in Plaquemines Parish, are intended to divert sediment, nutrients and freshwater to build new land, maintain existing marshes and increase area resiliency to sea level rise and storm events.

Simone Maloz, executive director of Thibodaux-based Restore or Retreat coastal advocacy group, said positive and negative impacts of the of the projects will be greater in some areas than others.

“With a project as big as a diversion, we wanted to make sure people understand how impactful that can be and that it can make a difference in Lafourche,” Maloz said.

Others, such as commercial fishermen concerned about how the diversions could affect their livelihood, have been pushing for dredging of the rivers and using that material to build coastal land.

Louisiana’s Shrimp Task Force, at a meeting in October in Houma, decided to send a letter to Gov. John Bel Edwards and others emphasizing the potentially negative impact of diversions and supporting the use of dredging.

“We need to push the issue on dredging,” Acy Cooper, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association and chairman for the Shrimp Task Force, said at the October meeting. “We want to make these dredges start making land and get it done. We want to see where we go with the dredging before we start digging holes in our levees and putting water in our estuaries.”

But among those attending today's meeting and supporting diversions was Joe Orgeron, of Galliano.

Orgeron said he first became interested in coastal restoration work after leaving Louisiana for school and employment. When he returned to the state 10 years later, he said he could see the effects of erosion.

“Even though I see the slight detriment that some commercial fishermen would see, I see the benefit as far outweighing it,” Orgeron said. “If commercial oystermen and shrimpers fight against the sediment diversions, then basically in time there would be no marshland, no ecosystem to make any sort of a living on. We’ll lose all the coast.”

-- Staff Writer Holly Duchmann can be reached at 857-2205 or holly.duchmann@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @holly_evamarie.