It was announced today that the Army Corps final pump plan was released for the Yazoo Backwater Pumps. This could mark significant progress in flood protection and environmental improvements.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday morning released a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register for the “Final Supplement No. 2 to the 1982 Yazoo Area Pump Project Final Environmental Impact Statement.”  The Corps will post the final SEIS and accompanying appendices here:

 U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith praised the release of the document that outlines the flood reduction and environmental benefits of its new Proposed Plan to address catastrophic flooding in the South Mississippi Delta.

“The release of this environmental report represents significant progress toward providing residents of the South Mississippi Delta the flood protection promised by the federal government for eight decades,” said Hyde-Smith, who has spearheaded this effort since becoming a U.S. Senator.

Senator Hyde-Smith serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee which has jurisdiction over the Corps. She helped work to secure $1.5 million in FY2020 appropriations legislation to fund the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement announced in the Federal Register on Friday.

The Delta is no stranger to flood waters and the danger they bring. The 2019 flood caused two deaths, hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, flooded over 600 homes, and severely affected wildlife and the environment.

“With the information provided in the Corps’ Final Environmental Impact Statement, there is no justifiable reason to oppose the new Proposed Plan,” she said.  “After extensive review, the Corps has determined that it will reduce annual flood damages, and provide net gains in environmental value to the entire Yazoo Backwater Area.”

In the final environmental impact statement, the Corps concludes, “that the Proposed Plan as designed would benefit low-income and minority populations in the Yazoo Study Area.  The vast majority of structures and homes would be better protected from flooding, there would be a discernible economic benefit separate from agricultural benefits, and the negative effects of extended duration backwater flooding on aquatic resources, wildlife, and recreational resources would be dampened.”

Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson said this is a critical project that needs to move forward.

“I am very pleased to see this critical project moving forward in a way to support Mississippi agriculture and all Mississippi communities affected by the historic floods. Not only is the Yazoo Area Pump Project vital to supporting Mississippi’s farmers and agriculture in the South Delta, but the project will safeguard long-term wildlife populations as well. I appreciate the Trump administration EPA’s support of the project and call on Congress to approve the necessary funding as soon as possible,” said Gipson.

The Proposed Plan in the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement outlines:

  • A new location for the pump station, approximately eight miles northeast of the 2007 proposed location);
  • A system operated by natural gas rather than diesel to reduce the carbon footprint;
  • The installation of 34 groundwater wells to re-establish flows for fish species in approximately 9,321 acres of streams; and
  • The acquisition and reforestation of 5,105 acres of agricultural lands for the purposes of enhancing wetlands, terrestrial, aquatic, and waterfowl resources.

A November 30 EPA Region 4 letter to the Corps regarding the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement stated, “The EPA fully supports the purpose of the project to reduce flood damages in the Yazoo Backwater Area.  EPA has determined that the proposed project is not subject to EPA’s 2008 Final Determination.”