Delta News TV

Yazoo Backwater Project

Nov 24, 2021

After nearly 12 years, the Yazoo Backwater project was finally approved by the EPA last year in 2020. The Army Core of Engineers along with state and federal representatives had been working to develop a new project since the 2008 veto.

Peter Nimrod: "Unfortunately, in 2008 the EPA vetoed the project under section 4-4 C of the clean water act, and when they veto a project like that it is dead. So we walked along for 10 plus years enduring backwater flood after backwater flood. The federal government has been paying the farmers for cropm losses every year. The numbers keep growing and growing."

It wasn't until 2019 when the last backwater flood occurred, the project saw some light when federal officials came out to see the flooded areas and where the pumps would be built.

Peter: "Under the Trump Administration in 2019, their EPA came out and looked at the 2019 backwater flood and couldn't believed what they saw. They said we got to try and fix this. The EPA and the Core worked together in 2019 to develop a new plan for the Yazoo backwater project."

That plan involved moving the pumps from Issaqueena County to Warren County along with other improvements. The Project was approved in 2020 and the record of decision was signed on January 15th earlier this year which allow the project to move forward. However, the new EPA director, Micheal Reagan, wrote a letter to the core stating that the project fell under the 2008 veto claiming that the backwater was need and helped the wetlands in the area and that the pumps would take water out of those areas.

Hank Burdine: "The problem I have with environmental groups saying that we are draining a wetland, we are in a wetland right here Cypress Reserve right here in Greenville, I have several wetlands on my farm. I know how a wetland functions and how a wetland operates. If you look, this wetland is dried up. You can look at the Cypress Knees and see where the water levels uses to come up too. These knees would come out of the water and keep these Cypress trees going. On the ridges you have bottom land hard woods, oaks, pecan, ash all these trees that the wildlife lives in. A wetland functions with water coming up with rain water and water going back down. The water in the south delta is trap water. It cannot get out when the river is up because we don't have the pumps."

Senator Hyde-Smith said in a statement blaming Representative Bennie Thompson for the veto due to a letter he wrote asking the EPA to double check and relook at the project to make sure it meets their approval under the Biden Administration. Many are still upset that the new administration will not support the backwater project to help farmers and residents protect their livelihoods and to help local wildlife.

"The time is not right now. We need to be politically patient and we got to wait for timing to be right. We know that there's an avenue down the rode. We got to take it when that opportunity arises again."