Corps publishes Record of Decision on pumps

Published 9:51 pm Sunday, January 17, 2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has put the final approval on the Yazoo Backwater Pumps Projects, publishing its Record of Decision Friday according to information from the Corps’ Vicksburg District.

The Record of Decision details the Corps decisions on the issues discussed in the final supplement to the 1982 Yazoo Area Pump Project Final Environmental Impact Statement, which was published in the Federal Register in December 2020.

Maj. Gen. Diana Holland, commanding general for the Mississippi Valley Division, signed the Record of Decision.

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“We are extremely pleased to complete another important step of the National Environmental Policy Act process,” said Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard.

“Factoring in the realities of science and engineering, our state and federal partners provided invaluable insight during their comment period, which we carefully considered while developing this document.

“We appreciate the support of our higher headquarters, the Mississippi Valley Division, throughout this process, and we remain committed to providing sustainable solutions to flooding in the South Delta.”

The report’s publication was commended by the Mississippi Levee Board, which issued a press release thanking the Corps.

“We are grateful for the work performed by the Corps to demonstrate again that the pumps are needed and will not damage the environment,” the release said. “We appreciate the cooperation of the Corps with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies to develop a modified Yazoo Backwater Project that does not fall within the out-of-date EPA 2008 veto.

 “Our community knows better than outsiders how backwater floods can devastate lives, homes and our natural resources.”

The Corps’ Dec. 11 Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, according to the release, “provides thorough scientific proof that the pumps — which will lessen the height and duration of flooding — will have only modest impacts on the fish and wildlife resources that we treasure.

“The proposed mitigation plan offsets those impacts and provides broader benefits by including wells to supplement upstream tributaries during dry periods.”

The pumps were the final piece of the Yazoo Backwater Levee Project authorized by Congress in 1941. The project was part of the Mississippi Rivers and Tributaries Project approved by Congress in 1928 to control flooding on the Mississippi River. The EPA, however, vetoed the pumps project in 2008.

The Corps in 2020 submitted a supplemental environmental impact statement proposing to install pumps in the Deer Creek area instead of at the Steele Bayou Control Structure that received the blessing of the EPA.

The EPA ruled in December the proposed project was not subject to its 2008 Final Determination, which vetoed a similar project.