The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published its Record of Decision for the Yazoo Area Pumps Project Jan. 15.
The Record of Decision details USACE’s decisions on the issues discussed in the Final Supplement No. 2 to the 1982 Yazoo Area Pump Project Final Environmental Impact Statement, which was published in the Federal Register in December 2020. The Record of Decision was signed by USACE Maj. Gen. Diana Holland, commanding general, Mississippi Valley Division.
The Record of Decision is available on the USACE Vicksburg District’s website.
“We are extremely pleased to complete another important step of the National Environmental Policy Act process,” said USACE Vicksburg District Commander Col. Robert Hilliard in a statement. “Factoring in the realities of science and engineering, our state and federal partners provided invaluable insight during their comment period, which we carefully considered while developing this document. We appreciate the support of our higher headquarters, the Mississippi Valley Division, throughout this process, and we remain committed to providing sustainable solutions to flooding in the South Delta.”
The project’s proposed plan includes both structural and nonstructural features, including a 14,000 cubic feet per second pump station with a year-round pump elevation of 87 feet National Geodetic Vertical Datum 29, located near Deer Creek; and acquisition and reforestation/conservation features on up to 2,700 acres of agricultural lands at or near elevation 87 feet, NGVD, through perpetual easements from willing sellers. The mitigation feature of the project includes the acquisition and reforestation of 2,405 acres of frequently flooded agricultural land from willing sellers, and the installation of 34 supplemental low-flow groundwater wells to improve low-flow conditions in delta streams.
A recent wetland hydrology study, which uses years of data from monitoring wells throughout the Yazoo Study Area, demonstrates that out-of-channel flooding plays a significantly smaller role in sustaining wetlands than previously understood and that precipitation is the dominant driver of wetland hydrology in much of the Yazoo Basin. For those reasons, the operation of the proposed plan is not anticipated to convert any wetlands to nonwetlands.
The Yazoo Basin, Yazoo Backwater, Mississippi, Project, of which the pump project is a part, was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1941. The project’s other features, including the Yazoo Backwater Levee, a 15-mile-long connecting channel and the Steele Bayou, Little Sunflower and Muddy Bayou control structures, were completed in the 1960s and 1970s. The pump project is the only feature that remains unconstructed, and the Yazoo Backwater Area is the only major backwater area in the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project that does not have a pump.
The Yazoo Backwater Area flooded nine out of the past 10 years. The historic flood of 2019 resulted in two attributed deaths, hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, flooded over 600 homes, and adversely affected the aquatic and terrestrial environment.