EPA gives no objection to proposed backwater pumps project

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YAZOO COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – Farmers and homeowners in the Mississippi South Delta are the closest they’ve been in years to getting the Yazoo Backwater Pump Project complete.

Earlier this week the EPA overseeing the region sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers agreeing with their newest draft of the project.

The plan was first passed to control flooding in 1941, fast forward to 2020 the Environmental Protection Agency of region four, for the first time gave the green light for the latest plan of completing the Yazoo Backwater Pump Project.

Off Satartia Rd. outside of Holly Bluff, farmer and business owner Chuck Perry recalls the struggle it took to keep his property afloat the past two years.

“We had to build a levee around the house year before last and go from a boat here to the highway to get to the car,” Perry told us. “And by the time you go to Yazoo City and get groceries you got to get it in the boat and out of the boat back into the house.”

Like many, he’d never thought he’d see the day the Environment Protection Agency on the side of pump advocates and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“I’m 62 years old and I told somebody about a week or so ago I never thought I’d live long enough to see it,” Perry added. “But I just said finally they’re doing what we were supposed to have years ago and thank the good Lord above.”

One big name leading the charge is Clay Adcock who explained in the Army Corps of Engineers’ new draft plan the science is on their side.

“We get flooded from no river water,” Adcock explained. “Every bit of our flooding is from rainwater. That’s from some people having misinformation that we are flooded from the Mississippi River and it’s going to flood but no. We are from annual rainwater so a plan is called for relief with the pumps.”

In the new draft, the Corps changed the location to Deer Creek east of Highway 61 to pump backwater over the levee. It will also run on natural gas, not kick on until 87 feet moving at 14,000 cubic feet-per-second.

“It’s probably going to cost somewhere in the $400 million range,” Levee Board Chief Engineer Peter Nimrod said. “But since 2008 had we had the pumps in place we would have prevented over $400 million in crop damage alone. Then Federal government paying for crop insurance claims that was $325 million and you look at the last two years where farmers couldn’t plant a crop at all that is over $300 million in losses.”

Before the record of the decision could be signed off by January people of the Delta gave a big thanks to their Senators and Representative Bennie Thompson hoping they’ll keep fighting in D.C. While others like Audubon Mississippi, the Sierra Club, and more sent in 55,000 signatures of their own against the project as they worry for the Wetlands.

If the budgeting can get worked out in congress next year along with the rod being signed off with the Army Corps of Engineers experts believe the project could be up and running officially by 2024.

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