The Mississippi Levee Board commends the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers release on Oct. 16, 2020, of its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the Yazoo Backwater Pumps.
Using new data and studies, the Corps has shown, again, that the Pumps should be built. The Pumps will reduce devasting flood damage and will help rather than harm the environment.
The Yazoo backwater has flooded in nine of the last 10 years. The historic flood of 2019 covered 548,000 acres, remaining on the land for over 6 months. Flood damages, based on changed flood frequency, height and duration, have increased since this important project was authorized in 1941. It is time to complete this final component of the flood control project.
The SEIS presents a project that differs from the project described in 2007. At that time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “vetoed” the Pumps based on assumed adverse potential impacts to wetlands habitat. This 2020 SEIS demonstrates that such impacts will not occur.
The 2020 Proposed Project offers additional features for environmental improvement:
* Stream flow augmentation during dry periods, to enhance fish and wildlife habitat, consisting of water from 34 wells along the Mainline Mississippi River Levee in the upper part of the study area.
* Reforestation of virtually all low-lying land under 87’ with the fee purchase of 2,405 acres for compensatory mitigation and another 2,700 acres of reforestation easements for non-structural flood control.
* Adaptive management plan, which will allow adaptations if necessary to environmental protection based on actual monitoring results, not predictions.
* Improved accuracy of wetland delineation, using 1-foot contour maps rather than 10-foot contours and over 10 years of actual monitoring data
* Improved information on fish, wildlife and wetlands based on data collection and studies published with the past 10 years.
* Change in pump station location and pump fuel (natural gas) to minimize impacts.
The SEIS examines the Pumps as described in 2007 in light of this new information. The 2020 Proposed Project consists of a 14,000 cfs pumping station located at Deer Creek which will reduce the height and duration of backwater floods. The Pumps will lower the Base Flood Elevation (BFE)(the 100-year flood) 5.1’ from 100.3’ to 95.2’. This 5.1’ reduction removes the vast majority of homes and all highways out of the BFE. This 5.1’ reduction will keep habitat flood-free for the wildlife to survive during backwater floods.
The Corps’ SEIS will be open for public comment until November 30, 2020. The Corps will provide information in the future about a virtual public meeting on the SEIS.
We urge the Community to comment on the SEIS so that the Corps understands the importance of this project.
Comments on the Draft SEIS II should be mailed to: District Engineer, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, 4155 Clay St., Vicksburg, MS 39138-3435
Comments can be emailed to: YazooBackwater@usace.army.mil