LWF has submitted scoping comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) in response to the Notice of Intent to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Pearl River Flood Risk Management Project, Pearl River Watershed, Rankin and Hinds Counties, Mississippi.
The Corps is considering a set of alternatives as it prepares to submit a DEIS for public review (currently expected in September 2023). The alternatives under evaluation include:
- Nonstructural Alternatives
– A: Relocating structures (buy out and relocating)
– A1: Additional non-structural measures such as elevation, and floodproofing
- Alternative C (aka “One Lake”) – Channel Improvements Plan (NFI Recommended Plan)
– Excavate and widen channel, use material to enhance levees, create habitat islands and weir relocation
- A combination or hybrid alternative is authorized.
- Other Potential Alternatives
Alternative “C” is more commonly known as the One Lake project. One Lake is a private real estate development scheme masquerading as a flood control project that would involve dredging and damming 10 miles of the Pearl River near Jackson, for the well-publicized purpose of creating new waterfront property—One Lake would put more people and property in harm’s way.
One Lake would expose communities to toxic pollution, worsen Jackson’s flooding and drinking water crisis, reduce downstream freshwater flows, jeopardize seafood and tourism economies, and destroy wildlife habitat that provides natural flood protection for local communities.
Instead, the Corps should prioritize more effective, environmentally sustainable options that truly address flooding concerns such as improvements to existing levees, elevating homes and buildings, and offering voluntary buy-outs for properties with a history of flooding problems.
A reasonable alternative is one that will not risk altering river flow or temperature from more water impoundment. Altered flows threaten the health and productivity of additional downstream habitats that support an array of fish, birds, and wildlife.
Your comments are needed
The US Army Corps of Engineers, US Environmental Protection Agency, and US Fish and Wildlife Service must protect the Pearl River for people and wildlife by rejecting Alternative “C”/One Lake. These agencies should prioritize non-structural and natural infrastructure solutions to provide effective, environmentally sustainable flood relief to Jackson while protecting the river’s unique ecology and wildlife. Instead of subsidizing private real estate development, the federal government should invest in already identified flood relief solutions, including setting some levees farther back from the river, investing in floodplain and wetland easements, targeted elevations, and voluntary relocations of structures in flood-prone areas.