Federal officials unveil flood plan for Mississippi Delta

May 4, 2023, 2:45 PM

FILE - Backwater flooding covers stretches of farm land on March 17, 2019, near Yazoo City, Miss. F...

FILE - Backwater flooding covers stretches of farm land on March 17, 2019, near Yazoo City, Miss. Federal officials presented a proposal Thursday, May 4, 2023, to further control flooding in the Mississippi Delta, a move that comes after months of work from government agencies and decades of delays amid disputes over potential environmental impacts. (AP Photo/Holbrook Mohr, File)

(AP Photo/Holbrook Mohr, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Federal officials presented a proposal Thursday to further control flooding in the Mississippi Delta, a move that comes after months of work from government agencies and decades of delays amid disputes over potential environmental impacts.

The south Delta’s Yazoo Backwater area covers thousands of square miles, starting just north of Vicksburg and going up to where Mississippi Highway 12 bisects the Delta. The area has experienced significant flooding for many years, including a damaging 2019 flood that lasted several months, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Farmers, rural shopkeepers and Mississippi politicians from both major parties have long pushed for a proposed project to mitigate flooding that involves pumping water from parts of the south Delta. Flooding often occurs after rainfall feeds high waters in the Mississippi River.

Environmental groups have opposed the project for decades, arguing it would be too expensive and hurt wetlands to help agribusiness.

At a public meeting on Thursday in Onward, Mississippi, experts from the Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency presented what they called a “preferred approach” to water management in the Yazoo Backwater area.

The proposal would include the installation and operation of pumping stations, support for voluntary buy-outs for at-risk homes and help to elevate homes and build ring levees, according to a news release from the offices of Mississippi’s two Republican U.S. senators, Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith.

“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,” Wicker said in the news release. “This water management plan would help prevent nearly all the flooding that has destroyed homes and businesses, ruined crops, and devastated wildlife.”

The proposal is a recommendation from the Corps and EPA that will be presented to the public for comment.

“The overall approach is a major inter-agency effort that aims to provide flood risk reduction through a water management solution,” Anna Owens, a spokesperson for the Corps’ Vicksburg District, said in an email. “The plan also considers affected communities, agriculture, and the needs of fish, wildlife, and wetlands.”

After a public comment period, officials will revise the proposal before they unveil a finalized plan on June 30, she said.

The EPA vetoed an earlier version of the Yazoo Backwater Project project in 2008 under Republican President George W. Bush, which would have also included pumping water. The agency said “adverse impacts on wetlands and their associated fisheries and wildlife resources are unacceptable.”

The late Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, once called the pumps “one of the worst projects ever conceived by Congress,” and opponents have said pushing water out of the south Delta could cause worse flooding downstream along the Mississippi River.

Former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in April 2019 that the agency would reconsider the decision that blocked the project. But in 2021, the EPA overturned the project’s approval, saying it was erroneously greenlit in the final days of the Trump administration.

Radhika Fox, assistant administrator for water at the EPA, had said the federal government wanted to work with the Corps and others to develop a proposal to address “flooding concerns in an environmentally protective manner.”

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, celebrated the new proposal in a news release Thursday.

“I don’t need to tell Mississippi what this means for the Delta and for Mississippi,” Reeves said. “Once it’s implemented, this plan will be a big victory for Mississippians.”


Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mikergoldberg.

United States News

FILE - Nate Coulter executive director of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) poses for a ph...

Associated Press

Suit challenges Arkansas law allowing librarians to be criminally charged over ‘harmful’ materials

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A federal lawsuit filed Friday challenges an Arkansas law that would subject librarians and booksellers to criminal charges if they provide “harmful” materials to minors. A coalition that includes the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock filed the challenge to the law, which takes effect Aug. 1. The new […]

11 hours ago

Los Angeles police officers separate protestors at the Saticoy Elementary School in the North Holly...

Associated Press

Protests erupt outside Los Angeles elementary school’s Pride month assembly

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police officers separated groups of protesters and counterprotesters Friday outside a Los Angeles elementary school that has become a flashpoint for Pride month events across California. People protesting a planned Pride month assembly outside the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Saticoy Elementary School wore T-shirts emblazoned with “Leave our kids alone” […]

11 hours ago

FILE - This undated photo provided by the Sayreville, N.J., Borough Council shows Sayreville Counci...

Associated Press

Suspect in New Jersey pastor’s slaying to remain held Virginia until hearing

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A church associate charged with gunning down a New Jersey pastor will remain in custody in Virginia until a June 29 extradition hearing after a hearing Friday was postponed, court records show. Rashid Ali Bynum, 29, of Portsmouth, Virginia, had previously lived in Sayreville, where victim Eunice Dwumfour lived with her 11-year-old […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Rights upheld, lawsuit revived against teacher accused of cutting Native American student’s hair

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An appeals court ruling has revived an anti-discrimination lawsuit accusing an Albuquerque teacher of cutting off one Native American girl’s hair and asking another if she was dressed as a “bloody Indian” during class on Halloween. Outrage over the girls’ treatment propelled legislation in New Mexico and beyond that prohibits […]

11 hours ago

This GOES-East GeoColor satellite image taken Friday, June 2, 2023 at 1:21 p.m. EDT., and provided ...

Associated Press

Tropical Storm Arlene, 1st of season, forms in Gulf of Mexico

MIAMI (AP) — Tropical Storm Arlene, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, formed Friday in the Gulf of Mexico on a track taking the cyclone south toward the western tip of Cuba. National Hurricane Center forecasters said in a 1:30 p.m. advisory that Arlene had sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph) […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

6 rescued after building partially collapses near Yale medical school

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A building under construction near the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven partially collapsed Friday, injuring several people who were pulled from the debris. Officials, however, said there were no fatalities. City firefighters and other authorities responded to Lafayette Street at about 12:30 p.m. Six people were trapped in […]

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...

OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

Here’s what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Federal officials unveil flood plan for Mississippi Delta