BAYOU DUPONT, La. --- A group of Jefferson Parish leaders spent part of Thursday morning walking on marshland that didn't exist 18 months ago.
They also took a boat tour to the Bayou Dupont Sediment Marsh Creation Area. The restoration project is located in the Barataria Basin, about 15 miles south of New Orleans.
A 14-mile long pipeline pumped sand from the Mississippi River into the area to create a new marshy island.
Jefferson Parish District 1 Councilman Ricky Templet led the tour.
"The more I can get people to see this and understand the importance that it can be done, the more support we get for these projects," Templet said.
The new two-mile long, football field wide patch of marshland was once open water.
Templet maintains it wasn't long ago when so called experts said it would be next to impossible to rebuild the marshes south Louisiana is losing at an incredible rate.
"This is not just protecting Jefferson Parish, not just protecting Lafitte, not just protecting lower Jefferson, this is protecting the whole regional area," Templet said. "If we keep saying we no longer need to protect certain areas, New Orleans is going to be where the Gulf of Mexico is."
Every three miles of healthy marshland knocks down the rising tide associated with a storm by one foot.
The first phase of this project cost about $40 million.
Jefferson Chamber President Todd Murphy said the cost is well worth it.
"When people are looking to expand their company or relocate into Jefferson Parish and into our region, they're looking at the stability of the place they're going to live, the place they're going to work," Murphy said. "Is it going to be flooded out?"
Other parish leaders agreed.
"The bottom line is that it needs to be funded and it needs to be paid for and you need to convince people that these are viable, important projects for the future of our state and the future of America," Templet said.
Jefferson Parish plans to use money from the 2010 BP oil spill settlement to help build phase two of the project. It would extend the Bayou Dupont marsh 12 miles to the west, toward Lafourche Parish. Early estimates peg the cost at $84 million.