JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -The controversial Yazoo Backwater Pumps project is back up for consideration. The Army Corps of Engineers says it would allow for drainage of floodwaters from part of the rural Mississippi Delta. It’s a project the Environmental Protection Agency rejected in 2008. But a new environmental impact study has given the public the opportunity to weigh in again.
You may have seen the images of the South Delta in recent years. And living there has pushed many to start a grassroots movement to “finish the pumps”.
“In 2019, we boated from our house to the road from March 16 to August,” explained Stormy Deere. “So, I have a pretty big interest.”
They’re hoping their voices will be heard through this latest public comment period to the Army Corps of Engineers.
“It’s not a sprint,” explained farmer Victoria Darden. “It’s a marathon. So, we have made a lot of progress and it’s all good things. It’s never been this far so we’re feeling good.”
But conservation groups have rallied the opposition to submit their comments too.
“I consider the pumps to be a cruel hoax, and injustice to the people in the South Delta because they’ve been told that this takes care of everything which it does not,” said Louie Miller, State Director for Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club.
They instead think it would be better to offer programs to help with elevating homes, voluntary buyouts and paying farmers to restore cropland back to wetlands.
“Does anybody think that 68% of the land to continue to flood even with the pumps in place is a good bang for the buck in the taxpayer dollar?” asked Miller. “No, it’s not.”
The debates surrounding the potential impacts of this project or not new but thousands more have added their voices in this latest round of public comment.
“Now that people have actually seen it, all around not only Mississippi but around the country, I think the support is there to get this done for these folks,” explained Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson. “It’s the right thing to do and we need to quit talking about it and just get it done.”
Former Governor Ray Mabus tweeting his opposition over the weekend.