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Effects of proposed sediment borrow pits on nearshore wave climate and longshore sediment transport rate along Breton Island, Louisiana

May 14, 2015

As part of a plan to preserve bird habitat on Breton Island, the southernmost extent of the Chandeleur Islands and part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to increase island elevation with sand supplied from offshore resources. Proposed sand extraction sites include areas offshore where the seafloor morphology suggests suitable quantities of sediment may be found. Two proposed locations east and south of the island, between 5.5–9 kilometers from the island in 3–6 meters of water, have been identified. Borrow pits are perturbations to shallow-water bathymetry and thus can affect the wave field in a variety of ways, including alterations in sediment transport and new erosional or accretional patterns along the beach. A scenario-based numerical modeling strategy was used to assess the effects of the proposed offshore borrow pits on the nearshore wave field. Effects were assessed over a range of wave conditions and were gaged by changes in significant wave height and wave direction inshore of the borrow sites, as well as by changes in the calculated longshore sediment transport rate. The change in magnitude of the calculated sediment transport rate with the addition of the two borrow pits was an order of magnitude less than the calculated baseline transport rate.