This Thursday, August 16, two meetings will be held in Louisiana to take public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) of the proposed Pearl River “One Lake” project. This project would include dredging ten miles of the Pearl River and building a dam to create a 1,900-acre lake near Jackson, Mississippi.
The purpose of the project is waterfront development and flood protection benefits. There are many concerns for impacts downstream from the dam in Louisiana, however, that do not seem to be adequately addressed in this DEIS. The study area included in the DEIS ends just below where a weir would be placed and does not consider effects farther downstream.
These downstream effects are critical to consider. Louisiana has a $50 billion Master Plan to address coastal protection and restoration. The potential effect to those projects that are already in place or planned must be included before a decision can be made to move forward with a project like One Lake. Some of these projects are dependent on freshwater flow from the Pearl River and could be negatively impacted should that flow be compromised. Louisiana cannot afford to have any of these important projects jeopardized.
Wildlife could also be negatively impacted by this project. A dam would alter the hydrology of the system, with potential harmful effects to fisheries downstream. Pearl River Swamp (Honey Island Swamp) depends on nourishment from water over flows during spring floods to thrive. The wetland forests of the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge and the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area need that overflow of water. Degradation to that habitat would severely impact the wildlife that depend on that ecosystem.
Several communities and agencies in both Louisiana and Mississippi are in opposition to the Pearl River “One Lake” project including the State of Louisiana (which passed SCR5 opposing the project) and Mississippi (which passed HB 1631 rejecting a bond proposal to cover the local cost share). St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, the City of Slidell, City of Bogalousa, and the Town of Pearl River are all in opposition to this project. Louisiana Wildlife Federation stands with these communities and state governments in that opposition.
Tune in Thursday at 10:30 am and watch the Rankin Hinds Flood Control & Drainage District representatives present their plans for the One Lake project and the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the Lower Pearl River Basin Task Force. You can attend this meeting in person in Senate Meeting Room “E” at the State Capitol or watch online at http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/home.aspx.
Thursday evening, a public meeting will also be held at the Slidell Municipal Auditorium (2056 Second St) from 6-8pm. Here, the public is invited to hear the presentation and give comments. For your comments to be officially part of the record, you must dictate them to the on-site stenographer at the meeting or submit them online at the District’s website.
The public comment period closes September 6, 2018.