Renewed push for One Lake project in wake of latest Pearl River flooding

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 8:33 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Pearl River flooding leads to a question of whether it could be prevented. Depending on whom you ask, the answer is yes, and the One Lake project is what’s being touted as that possible solution.

As a reminder, it is a major flood control and economic development project that calls for creating a 1,500-acre lake on the Pearl River from north of Lakeland Drive to south of I-20.

One Lake’s fate is waiting on approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. If approved, here’s what could happen.

“It’s not going to be able to move dirt right away,” explained Keith Turner, attorney for the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District. “But we’re hopeful that if we get approval by the end of the year, we can be at least designing next year with maybe construction the following year.”

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District did a study following the 2020 flood to show what having One Lake in place would’ve meant.

“In 2020, there was about 162 structures that would have been impacted by it,” cited Turner as an example. “If the project was in place, all of those but for eight would have come out of the floodplain. They would not have flooded.”

But the crest at Jackson was more than a foot less this go-around. Would it have helped?

“Any flood of any sort would be reduced by this project,” said Turner. “Because what it does is it’s conveying more water through town so that you don’t have it backing up and so you don’t have street flooding in this case.”

Downstream, you’ll hear leaders like the Monticello Mayor singing a much different tune.

“They’re wanting to sell their, you know, their dream,” said Monticello Mayor Martha Watts. “And we’re going to fight them every step of the way.”

She believes One Lake would lead to more flooding and loss of land for her residents and she’s disappointed to see federal officials like Sen. Roger Wicker lobbying for the plan.

“It’s extremely disappointing that they have no regard for anyone South down here,” added Mayor Watts. “You know, you’ve got a couple 100 miles of people that you are totally disregarding, voters that you are totally disregarding.”

Environmental groups have also pushed back on the plan.

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