WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., today responded to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement of a preferred approach to solve persistent flooding in the Yazoo Backwater Area.
The Army Corps and EPA scheduled community engagement sessions to begin sharing details of the “Yazoo Backwater Area Water Management Plan,” with the first this morning in Onward, Miss., and additional sessions Thursday and Friday in Vicksburg.
“This is a great announcement. It’s a major step forward for South Delta residents who have been waiting decades for the federal government to keep its promise, and also, to protect them from flooding. This water management plan would help prevent nearly all the flooding that has destroyed homes and businesses, ruined crops, and devastated wildlife. Also, this new plan would not have been possible without federal officials hearing firsthand from the many South Delta residents who have shared their unfiltered stories of hardship and loss and frustration. I encourage all Mississippians who have been affected, who are interested in this issue, to continue sharing their stories and feedback on this proposal,” Wicker said.
“We can give thanks that the Army Corps, EPA, and other agencies kept their promise to go back to the drawing board and come up with a plan they all agree on. I am excited to say we are stepping onto new ground. After a lot of time, hard work, stakeholder meetings, and many trips to the South Delta, the Corps and cooperating federal agencies support a single path forward,” Hyde-Smith said. “There is a long road ahead in terms of planning, design, funding, and construction of the pumping stations, but I am committed to doing everything I can to move this plan forward. Mississippians deserve this, and have for quite some time.”
As presented to the community, the recommended preferred approach to water management in the Yazoo Backwater Area will include the installation and operation of pumping stations. The stations will be designed to operate at a greater overall capacity than previous proposals in order to reduce the risk of flooding for almost all residences. For homes that remain at risk of flooding, the federal government would provide support for voluntary buy-outs or help to elevate homes and build ring levees.
The Army Corps is expected to publish details of the plan online here, which will kick off a public comment period on the proposal.
As noted by the Army Corps in its community engagement announcement, the Army Corps and EPA will then “present their preferred approach(es) for flood risk reduction within the YBA in June. Subsequently, the Army will work expeditiously to develop a report on YBA flood risk reduction solution(s), including a plan for completion of any necessary documentation for compliance with the Clean Water Act and all other applicable laws and regulations.”
The Army Corps and EPA announcement marks the first concrete results following months of collaboration among an interagency group of government agencies on the Yazoo Backwater Area.
At the invitation of the Mississippi congressional delegation, the interagency group traveled to Mississippi in August 2022 to discuss the need for a flood control solution in the Yazoo Backwater Area. The tour concluded with a community town hall at Rolling Fork High School where hundreds of residents shared their support for a flood control solution.