NEW ORLEANS - Thanks to a new grant, the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain is getting a makeover.
Jefferson Parish plans to put floating islands along the shore to strengthen and grow already flourishing marsh there.
Two years ago it was just an experiment taking root in Terrebonne Parish. Now, floating islands are being planted around the state to protect and restore wetlands.
"In other communities throughout the state, where these systems have been used there, they have had success," said Katherine Costanza, the Assistant Director for the Jefferson Parish Department of Environmental Affairs.
A $50,000 grant is now helping Jefferson Parish bring the idea to the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The floating islands will help grow the existing 3.5 acres of man-made marsh near the Bucktown marina.
"Our goal is to basically protect and enhance this existing area that was created when we dredged the area that is now known as the Bucktown harbor," said Costanza.
Seventeen floating islands that are 5-feet-wide and 20-feet-long will be built and placed 60 to 100 feet in front of the man-made marsh.
Right now, two designs are being considered. The first would position the floating islands in a straight line, whereas the second would stagger them.
The floating islands will be roughly 18 inches thick and are made from layers of what looks like Brillo pads, but, it is actually a non-toxic material that is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
"They are stocked with native plants and microbes and then they are anchored below the sea flood," said Costanza.
Once anchored, the plants will grow, take root and help build up more sediment.
Installation of the floating islands is expected to begin in 90 days.