After major flooding in the central Mississippi area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to provide millions in funding for flood control projects.
On Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that they plan to dedicate $221 million toward flood control projects in the Mississippi Capitol Region. These dollars have long been sought by local and state leaders in the Jackson area.
RELATED: Efforts in Jackson being made to implement flood control despite opposition
The Pearl River Flood Control District board made the announcement at Flowood City Hall on Monday. The Corps plans to spend nearly $800 million across the country on flood mitigation, coastal storm damage protection and supply chain resilience from the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that was passed by Congress.
Included in this spending is a flood damage reduction project for the Pearl River in Jackson that is currently pending review.
“As we saw in 2020 and again in August, many parts of Jackson and Rankin County are vulnerable to catastrophic flooding from the Pearl River,” said Hinds County District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham. “This flood protection project is decades in the making and has gone through extensive study to ensure that our neighborhoods and businesses could be protected from future floods without harming other areas. We thank our Congressional delegation and the Corps of Engineers for the help and support over these many years while we have searched for a solution. Now we’re ready to act and give people the protection they deserve.”
The most recent Pearl River flood happened in August, but considerable flooding has occurred over the last three years. The waters have had devastating effects on homes, businesses and infrastructure.
The current levee system only protects the State Fairgrounds and surrounding areas as well as portions of the City of Pearl in Rankin County. The proposed project will widen the already channelized river, allowing more water to move through the area in high water events, no longer backing up into neighborhoods and businesses.
District Counsel Keith Turner spoke to the details of the project and shared next steps.
“We have been working hand in hand with the Corps for almost a decade on this project,” said Turner. “We appreciate their support and feedback as we finalize the details of the plan. In the coming weeks, we hope to finalize the plans for a final decision by the Corps in D.C.”
The flood control proposal would widen the Pearl River, enlarge levees, and remove chokepoints that have caused upstream flooding. The plan would protect Hinds and Rankin counties from more than $1 billion in potential damages, shielding homes, roads, hospitals, rail, and other infrastructure from a future flood.
The proposal was originally brought forward by the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood Control District in 2007 to aid in the continual flooding threats that take place throughout Jackson and the surrounding metro areas. Many know this proposal as the One Lake Plan or Locally Preferred Plan.
The Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District is a public agency composed of the mayors of Jackson, Flowood, Pearl, and Richland as well as representatives from Hinds County, Rankin County, and the State of Mississippi. This agency has been the local sponsor working on this flood control project for almost ten years. Prior efforts have been underway since the 1980s.
Environmental groups have been opposed to the project since its conception. Andrew Whitehurst with Healthy Gulf claims that it will cause additional environmental issues and is not priced out properly. He estimated that they could be short roughly $100 million for the project. He added that urban wastewater is an issue, and his group and others are concerned that the widened levees would only increase that problem.
Turner acknowledged the concerns held by these groups and told Y’all Politics prior to the project’s authorization that, “The city is in a state of crisis. Everything we can do to help needs to be done. Our project does some of that.’
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., praised the announcement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday.
“This is an outstanding announcement for the many Hinds and Rankin County residents who have to fear for their homes and businesses every time waters rise along the Pearl River. Finalizing this final federal study will bring us one step closer to breaking ground on this meaningful flood control solution,” Wicker said. “As I have emphasized repeatedly to the Administration, each year that the Jackson metro area lacks adequate flood control is another year when we risk repeating the disaster of the Easter Flood of 1979. I am glad to see that this important project will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law I supported. This is the exact kind of hard infrastructure that our state needs.”