GUIZERIX: Show up for the South Delta this week

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army for Civil Works will return to Vicksburg on Thursday and Friday to present their joint solution for the Yazoo Backwater Area.

Based on conversations had in February, we have every reason to be optimistic that, this time, after 80 years, things might work out in the best interest of the residents affected by the floods. This is the meeting previously scheduled for April, for those following the EPA and Army’s “aggressive” five-month timeline that began in January.

The meetings will allow Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; Radhika Fox, Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water and others to present a unified front for residents of the South Delta and present their organizations’ preliminary findings and receive individual feedback.

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Residents will have the opportunity to attend sessions at The Vicksburg District building, 4155 Clay St., on Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. as well as on Friday from 9 to 11 a.m.

Those in the South Delta who can’t make the trek to Vicksburg can attend a 9 a.m. to noon session on Thursday at the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Onward.

Whether or not the plan includes a pumping station remains to be seen, but the outlook seems once again positive.

But those who’ve been following the issue for any length of time know: it ain’t over until it’s over.

How many times in the last 20 years alone has a true flood mitigation plan been within reach for the Yazoo Backwater Area, and then suddenly pulled away thanks to bureaucratic red tape?

Most recently, that scenario came courtesy of Rep. Bennie Thompson, whom I’m of the mindset only had “serious concerns” about the most recent iteration of the project because it was approved under the Trump administration. But, I digress.

Pumping station or not, it is my sincere hope that the solution presented Thursday and Friday will be one that gives the maximum benefit to all residents in the South Delta. Five years from now, we might reach a day when backwater floods are a thing of the past for Sharkey, Issaquena, Warren and Yazoo counties — how amazing would that be?

The credit for such an accomplishment won’t rest solely on the shoulders of any one politician or government official or activist or anyone else. The Yazoo Backwater Project will, Lord willing, reach completion thanks to the people who’ve devoted years of their lives to being the squeaky wheel and advocating for themselves and their neighbors.

I, for one, am proud to know them and proud to have shared just a handful of their stories.

Here’s hoping environmental justice is achieved this week.