WASHINGTON (WJTV) – On Thursday, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker attended a hearing to examine the current issues adversely affecting environmental justice. He advocated on behalf of the Yazoo Backwater pumps project. He also invited Tracy Harden, owner of Chuck’s Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, to testify on the need to control flooding in the Mississippi Delta.
The senator said the flooding is an often overlooked case of environmental injustice. The federal government approved a plan to relieve flooding in the Delta in 1941, but Wicker stated 80 years of bureaucratic delay has kept the project known as the Yazoo Backwater Pumps from moving forward.
“Regular flooding reinforces this cycle of poverty because residents lack the certainty they need to build homes and establish new businesses,” the senator said.“The entire population of Sharkey County – it’s gone from 15,000 plus to 4,400 plus since 1940. At the very time when the residents of the South Delta have been crying out to complete this.”
Harden testified, “We do know if those pumps are in, the floods would not be as high. Our farmers would be able to be in the fields working, which means they’re able to employ some of the lower-income people. If the farmers can’t plant, then they can’t hire.”
Several environmental groups are against the proposed pumps. They said new Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) data shows a large part of the Yazoo Backwater Area will still flood even with the pumps in place.