Thirteen Years After Deepwater Horizon, Restoration Makes Progress

Gulf of Mexico sunrise (Credit: Nanciann Regalado)

Through the cooperation and coordination of five states, four federal agencies, numerous partners, and thousands of deeply committed individuals, strong restoration progress continues in the Gulf of Mexico 13 years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill which occurred on April 20, 2010.  

As of the end of 2022, the Trustee Implementation Groups have allocated over $4 billion to more than 280 projects across the Gulf.  

Snapshot of Restoration  

Every April, the Trustees receive an annual payout of $489,655,172 funds from the $8.8 billion Natural Resource Damage Assessment portion of the settlement with BP, which helps restoration continue to make strong progress. To date, roughly half of the settlement funds have been paid out by BP.   

In the last year, the Trustees have been hard at work finalizing new plans and implementing projects to restore natural resources, habitat, and lost recreational use. Here’s a snapshot of restoration activities that advanced in 2022.   

  • In Alabama, Trustees completed the Fort Morgan Pier Rehabilitation Restoration project, acquired approximately 60 acres along the Waterhole Branch and the Green Branch of the Fish River (Lloyd Tract), and released a Supplemental Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment for the Swift Tract Living Shorelines project.  

  • Florida Trustees sought public input for its third Restoration Plan, focusing on water quality, and approved a plan to enhance public access to coastal habitats at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.   

  • In Louisiana, Trustees released the final plan for the $2.4 billion Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion project, and began construction on the 2,800-acre Lake Borgne marsh creation project, the largest project by acreage the Louisiana Trustees have approved to date.  

  • Mississippi Trustees released a third Restoration Plan in June 2022, with projects benefiting habitat, sea turtles, marine mammals, birds and recreation. Mississippi Trustees also began planning for their fourth Restoration Plan.  

  • In the Open Ocean restoration area, Trustees initiated their third draft Restoration Plan (to restore seabirds), released a Restoration Strategy for fish and water column invertebrates, conducted 8 cruises to restore deep-sea corals, and worked with fishing industries to reduce bycatch of sea turtles and fish species harmed by the spill.   

  • In Texas, Trustees released a $39 million restoration plan to benefit birds, oysters, sea turtles, coastal habitat, and reduce nutrient runoff. Besides initiating several new restoration projects, Trustees completed restoration of an important bird nesting island in Galveston Bay, began work on the 17-mile McFaddin beach and dune restoration project, began monitoring the Bahia Grande hydrologic improvement project, and used dredged sediments to increase elevation and restore marsh. 

  • The Regionwide Trustees continued developing the projects approved in their first restoration plan to benefit marine mammals, oysters, birds, and sea turtles, and in particular made progress in developing a Marine Debris Hotspot Plan to reduce marine debris impacts to birds and sea turtles.   

About the Spill  

Unprecedented in size and scale, the spill released approximately 3.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over nearly three months. The plume of oil moved throughout the water column, formed surface slicks that cumulatively covered an area the size of Virginia, and washed onshore to oil at least 1,300 miles of shoreline habitats.  

The spill and associated response actions resulted in injuries to numerous habitats and resources, species, and ecological functions—resulting in an ecosystem-level injury.  

The Trustees’ Programmatic Restoration Plan includes five complementary goals and a set of restoration types to address the diverse group of spill-related injuries.  

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