• 73°

Another year of flooding is another year of damage to the environment and livelihoods

Just because it is not in the headlines today does not mean the water is not there.

Just because the television stations are not reporting it does not mean the water is not there.

Just because our attention has been totally consumed by the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the threat it poses to our way of life does not mean the water is not there.

The water is there. It has flooded hundreds of thousands of acres and while it has not caused the massive damage caused by 2019’s flood, the flood of 2020 is real, it is ongoing and in any other year would be both horrific and historic.

That’s what makes Thursday’s news that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District will soon develop a supplemental environmental report on the long-planned backwater pumps project exciting; it’s long overdue, but exciting nonetheless.

“District engineers and technical experts determined the need for an updated study based on recent floods and new data on the environment in the backwater area. New data indicates that the environmental impacts to wetlands and other natural and aquatic resources caused by a pumping plant would be substantially less than originally calculated in the 2007 Reformulation Study and Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement,” the District said in a release announcing the report’s development.

And in case you missed one of the most important lines in the statement — the District said the environmental impact to wetlands by a pumping station “would be substantially less than originally calculated in the 2007 Reformulation Study and Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.”

For years since the Environmental Protection Agency vetoed the completion of the Yazoo Backwater Pump Project under President Bush’s administration, residents, experts and organizations had argued the figures used by those opposing the project’s completion massively overstated any negative environmental impacts and massively understated the negative impacts the lack of the pumps has continued to cause. 

Last week, the Mississippi Levee Board issued a statement offering strong support for the completion of the pumps project.

“Solid scientific data demonstrates that the Yazoo Backwater Pumps will help, not hurt the environment. The severe environmental damage of backwater flooding has not received the attention it deserves, because the focus has been on the economic and human hardship of flooding,” the board’s chief engineer Peter Nimrod said.

For far too many years, far too many decades, delays in this project has caused undue damage. Each time a flood in the backwater area occurs it is yet another lost year of farming, another year of damaged homes and property and another year of livelihoods destroyed.

Not completing the project in a timely manner causes more damage to the environment and to people’s way of life. 

Finish the pumps. Finish them soon and to those who stand opposed to it, get out of the way.