New plan proposed for Yazoo Backwater area and it includes pumps

Published: May. 5, 2023 at 7:16 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -You may remember us showing the flooding in the Yazoo Backwater area through the years. Now, a new plan is being proposed that includes the long-called-for pumps. This comes after the EPA halted the project in 2021.

”I’m very nervous,” said Victoria Garland. “I’m very cautiously optimistic. I hope that this is it.”

Victoria Garland lives in the Yazoo Backwater area, as do others who intently listened to this latest plan in a community meeting in Vicksburg Friday morning. Many are still shell-shocked from the 2019 flooding.

“We were completely shut out of our home,” explained Garland. “We had to boat in and boat out.”

The plan would manage the flooding, not allowing water to exceed the 90-foot elevation level during crop season but would allow it to go up to 93 feet outside of crop season. It’s a plan Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith are glad to see offered up.

“There will still be flooding. There’s no question about it,” said Sen. Roger Wicker. “They’ll just be the certainty.”

That’s a certainty that residents haven’t had.

“The people in the South Delta can finally get the help that they have so long deserved,” added Hyde-Smith. “And they’ve so long needed.”

“This is not the Army Corps of Engineers coming up with another plan, hoping that it’ll pass muster with the EPA, with the Department of the Interior, with other interested agencies and trying to work through after the fact,” explained Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “We got together. We had a collaborative approach upfront, to very candidly deal with the issues that had hindered the previous proposals.”

Conservation groups don’t see improvements.

“There’s nothing new here,” said Louie Miller, State Director of the Mississippi chapter of the Sierra Club. “This is the same. They just put some lipstick on the pig.”

Opponents argue it’s an agricultural drainage project that won’t protect communities from flooding.

“We’ll fight this as long as we need to fight it,” added Miller. “You know, we were in court last time, and they restored the veto less than 14 months ago, and now we’re back. You know, this is politically driven, clearly has nothing to do with flood control.”

Agencies hope to finalize the plan by the end of June. But even if approved, there would be more steps before pumps could be built.

To view the proposed plan, click HERE.

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