Lawsuit challenges Army Corps of Engineers’ approval of Yazoo pumps

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WASHINGTON (WJTV) – On Tuesday, a coalition of conservation organizations represented by Earthjustice, a legal non-profit, filed notice that they intend to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), for violating the Endangered Species Act as part of the Corps’ rushed effort in the closing days of the Trump Administration to approve a massive drainage project in Mississippi’s South Delta commonly known as the Yazoo Pumps.

The George W. Bush Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stopped the project in 2008, citing unacceptable damage to some of the nation’s richest wetland and water resources.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) published its Record of Decision for the Yazoo Area Pumps Project on Friday, January 15.

“The Corps disregarded the Fish and Wildlife Service’s repeated calls for formal consultation to ensure compliance with the Endangered Species Act,” said Earthjustice attorney Stu Gillespie. “Instead of complying with that bedrock environmental law and making a decision based on the science, the Corps recklessly approved this expensive, ineffective and destructive project.”

The project’s proposed plan includes both structural and nonstructural features, including a 14,000 cubic feet per second pump station with a year-round pump elevation of 87 feet National Geodetic Vertical Datum 29 (NGVD), located near Deer Creek; and acquisition and reforestation/conservation features on up to 2,700 acres of agricultural lands at or near elevation 87 feet, NGVD, through perpetual easements from willing sellers. The mitigation feature of the project includes the acquisition and reforestation of 2,405 acres of frequently flooded agricultural land from willing sellers and the installation of 34 supplemental low flow groundwater wells to improve low flow conditions in delta streams.

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