Senator Focuses on Critical Mississippi Flood Control Projects at Army Corps Budget Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today received commitments from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials regarding prioritizing two important Mississippi flood control projects, the Arkabutla Lake dam and the Yazoo Backwater Area Pumps.

Hyde-Smith focused on the two Mississippi projects during a Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Wednesday to review the FY2025 budget requests for the Army Corps and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

“For Mississippi and the nation, getting the Army Corps of Engineers budget right is important. The Corps is tasked with addressing some of our nation’s toughest challenges.  We rely on the Corps to do its job, and to do it well—swiftly and effectively,” Hyde-Smith said.


VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Seeks to Ensure Arkabutla Dam Fix is a Priority, Considered for Supplemental Funding.

Highlighting the anxiety among the 19,000 residents, farmers, and businesses in Tate and DeSoto counties that rely on the compromised Arkabutla Lake dam for flood protection, Hyde-Smith sought assurances that a future emergency supplemental appropriations request includes Arkabutla dam remediation costs for what could be “a multi-year, multimillion-dollar endeavor.”

“A depression was found near the base of the dam last year, igniting major concerns if left untreated.  A Corps risk assessment summary stated:  ‘If Arkabutla Dam breached or failed, flood waters would be deep and swift enough to damage and destroy homes, buildings, roads, bridges, and power and water supplies and,’ in their words, ‘even cause loss of life,” Hyde-Smith said.   “Farmers, alone, have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars putting crops in the ground this year, which could be wiped away with a bad turn of events.”

“Should the White House submit any type of emergency supplemental appropriations request to Congress in the near future, before the Arkabutla Dam issue is resolved, will you commit to ensuring this project is part of the conversation?  If you ask folks who live in the area, they will certainly tell you this is a high-risk emergency scenario,” the Senator said.

Michael L. Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, assured Hyde-Smith that the Army Corps will be “very prepared to participate in those discussions based on needs, risk, and ongoing expenditures we have to deal with emergencies.”

Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, outlined interim risk reduction work at the Arkabutla dam, including surveillance activities and efforts to provide updates to the community.  He reported that the completion of an ongoing dam safety modification study would influence discussions regarding supplemental funding to support work to shore up the dam.


VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith, Army Corps Outline Next Key Steps to Advancing Yazoo Backwater Area Pumps Project.

Hyde-Smith also used the hearing to confirm the Army Corps of Engineers, along with other federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, remain on track to advance the environmental impact reviews required to construct pumps and other flood control measures for the Yazoo Backwater Area of the Mississippi Delta.

“I am so grateful to everyone at the Corps who has been involved in addressing the floods affecting this Yazoo Backwater Area.  A solution to this problem is long overdue.  We’re talking decades here,” Hyde-Smith said.  “Are we still on track, and don’t you agree that the people trying to live, raise families, put food on the table and do business in the Yazoo Backwater Area have a right to this federally-authorized flood protection?  Would you agree that pumping stations are not a new concept?”

Connor said federal agencies “continue to work in alignment” and confirmed Hyde-Smith’s understanding that a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) could be released for public comment in the next “30 to 45 days,” and that a final EIS could be published this fall.

“The goal is to, by late fall in the calendar year, to have this process concluded,” Connor said.  “We cannot replicate the 2019 situation.” 

Following a disastrous flood that devastated the Yazoo Backwater Area in 2019, Hyde-Smith has been a driving force behind pushing the federal government to complete the pumping stations for the region as authorized under the Flood Control Act of 1941.  The Yazoo Backwater pumps represent the last, unmet federal commitment to help protect a 630,000-acre region in the South Delta.