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Pumping is a solution for Delta floodingPumping is a solution for Delta flooding

A proposed plan to alleviate flooding in the lower Mississippi Delta is a step in the right direction.

Brent Murphree

June 1, 2023

3 Min Read
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Residents of the lower Mississippi Delta have long sought a solution to flooding that occurs in the area.Brent Murphree

In early May, the Mississippi Levee Board announced a proposed management solution for the backwater flooding problem in the south Delta.

The Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have recommended that the approach include using a 25,000 cfs pump to alleviate flooding by keeping the water level at 90 inches during the crop year.

“This new plan will finally provide the people, wildlife and environment the protection that they deserve and have been promised since 1941,” said Mississippi Levee Board Chief Engineer Peter Nimrod. “This 25,000 cfs pump will be able to maintain certain water levels and provide real flood protection above these proposed elevations.”

However, I have no doubt that several environmental groups will fight this proposed plan and they have until June 30 to work their magic to thwart it. Audubon Delta, Mississippi’s arm of the Audubon Society, is already issuing statements about their intent to protest the agreement.

The plans to alleviate the flooding have gone back and forth for years as residents thought they had good opportunities to alleviate the inundation. Those hopes have been dashed several times, including most recently in 2020 when an order was reversed, stopping the pumps.

I’ve listened to years of studies, heard the stories and seen the communities of those affected by the water, most of which are hardworking individuals who just want a reasonable solution to the situation. It’s also keeping a lot of engineers and too many lawyers on the payroll.

The agencies put in their time recently working on the new plan at the request of those in the area. In February, they met with local residents to discuss the devastation of the floods and to get input regarding its effects on people, homes, roads, forests, wildlife and the environment.

They have done their footwork. I know the local Army Corp and the Levee Board have diligently sought a solution.

When the plan was announced on May 4, Nimrod stated, “The community was delighted with the new plan but they have asked the federal agencies to go back and look to see if they could lower the pump-on elevations and start the crop-season in earlier March,” since the original plan was to lower the water level to 80 inches.

Nott Wheeler, Mississippi Levee Board Vice President noted that it gives residents an additional 10 to 13 inches of protection and keeps thousands of acres out from under the water.

Mississippi elected officials Sen. Roger Wicker, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson and Gov. Tate Reeves have all publicly advocated for more flood protection in the area, if not specifically for this plan.

The public is encouraged to make comments and can do so through June 5. The comment section can be accessed at www.mvk.usace.army.mil by clicking on the link to the Yazoo Backwater Project Page.

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Backwater Flood

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