Levee Board to Corps: Yazoo Backwater Area has ‘suffered too long’
Published 10:14 am Monday, June 15, 2020
The efforts advocating completion of the backwater Yazoo Backwater pumps project received another boost Friday when the Mississippi Levee Board submitted a report to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that showed removal of floodwaters helps, rather than hurts, environmental resources in the area.
The report comes as the Corps is drafting a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed pumps project that will help federal agencies deciding on whether or not to complete the long-planned project.
The Corps’ report is due to be released to the public in October.
Email newsletter signup
In its release Friday, the Levee Board maintained “the Corps must consider the adverse impacts of flooding on the community, including people, property, businesses and the environmental resources on which our community relies.”
The study released by the Mississippi Levee Board, titled “The Effects of Recent Flooding Events on Ecological Resources in the Yazoo Backwater Area of Mississippi,” concluded that floods, depending upon depth and duration of floodwater, result in adverse impacts to the environment.
“The study looked at four categories: wildlife and recreation, forestry, methylmercury and Asian carp, an invasive species. Using scientific references and available information from the Backwater area, the study summarizes the type of impacts caused on each category by flooding,” the Levee Board said in its release. “Depth and duration of floodwaters are the dominant factors in causing damage. Reducing the depth and duration by pumping floodwaters out of the Backwater would improve each environmental resource category.”
The board has frequently advised the Corps and other federal and state agencies of the damages to the community from flooding.
“Had the Pumps been in place from 2008 until 2018 they would have prevented $372M in agricultural damages. This number does not include the record 2019 Backwater Flood which flooded and prevented 231,000 acres from being farmed in 2019,” the board said. “In 2019 the pumps would have prevented the flooding of 686 homes and 3 highways in 2019. The pumps would have provided protection for people, homes, cropland, animals, trees and the environment in the South Mississippi Delta.
“Sadly, this information is not new,” the board continued. “Building the pumps will complete the long-promised flood damage control system and protect the Yazoo Backwater Area from the devastation it has suffered for too long.”