Mississippi Public Broadcasting

After a Veto, Pump Talks Continue in the Mississippi Delta

By Alexandra Watts

Recent flooding in the South Mississippi Delta is reigniting conversations about a controversial pump project. MPB’s Alexandra Watts reports on why people are for and against the pumps being installed.

Communities continue to flood in the South Mississippi Delta. Residents say if the pumps were installed, their areas would not see as much devastation. 

The Environmental Protection Agency vetoed the pump project in 2008 because of potential effects on the environment including wetlands. 

Because of this, Mississippi Sierra Club president Louie Miller said other solutions should be considered.

“Flood plane management is where you gotta go,” Miller said. “Why these local governments have not addressed these non-structural solutions such as buyouts and relocations and elevating structures is beyond me.”

Miller says the flooding would not be completely stopped with the pumps installed.

Warren County emergency manager John Elfer agrees not all of the floodings would have been prevented. But he says the pumps would have prevented the more serious damage. 

"I think that we have mitigated a lot of it,” Elfer said. “You would not have had certainly the number of houses and homes or businesses that have been affected. I think that we would have still seen some flooding, but if we could have saved five or six feet. We could have survived that — we saw that last year."

In response to environmental concerns, Elfer said that animals are displaced and dying due to recent flooding. 

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has proposed temporary pumps for the region, and some in the Delta are hoping the EPA overturns its original veto.

Alexandra Watts is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.