Will the Feds finally finish the pumps in Mississippi Delta? Project could also pump in major economic relief

Published 7:45 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Sen. Roger Wicker said Friday he believes the approval and implementation of the latest floodwater management proposal for the Yazoo Backwater Area will be “major” for economic development in the area.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Department of Civil Works, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife spent Thursday and Friday in the Vicksburg area presenting the plan to the public. Taking a three-pronged approach, the proposal includes a 25,000 CFS pumping station, non-structural solutions such as ring levees and buy-outs, and federal agreements including follow-up monitoring.

“My hat is off to the Corps of Engineers and other agencies for working on this,” Wicker said. “This is a major step in the economic development of this region. I’m so proud to have worked with the Administration and other members of the Congressional delegation.”

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The potential for flood mitigation in the area could open the door for a variety of projects in the South Delta region — an area with little infrastructure to support economic development.

The main highway through the region, U.S. 61, is reduced to two lanes between Leland and Vicksburg. There is no rail access in the area or port access despite its proximity to the Mississippi River. Portions of other main thoroughfares, especially in the hardest-hit areas, were reverted back to gravel from traditional asphalt pavement following the 2019 Yazoo Backwater Flood.

“When a small business has certainty that they can stay open the entire year, then they are able to build in that area. Our farmers are able to better plant in that area,” Wicker said. “It has been a decades-long process. And I think what we’ve seen is a cross-section of our economic development leaders of this region.

“They’re very excited about this, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after numerous setbacks,” he added.