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Yazoo group opposes backwater pumps as historic flood continues

VIDEO: Yazoo pump debate new developments  

By David Kenney

YAZOO COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - The Sierra Club of Mississippi released an editorial this week vocally opposing the Yazoo backwater pumps.

At the same time in Washington, Mississippi Senators seem to be moving forward with a plan to build the flood control device.

Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker announced they are introducing a bill that would overturn a 2008 EPA veto of a backwater pumping station.

Recently that plan has sprung new life, as residents there are struggling through a historic flood.

Members of the Mississippi Sierra Club say that plan gives residents “false hope”.

Louie Miller, Director of the Sierra Club of Mississippi said, “We like to say how many houses are going to be actually and the structures going to be actually flood free after you put the pumps in, because 68 percent of the land, even with the pumps in place, will continue to flood. That’s not a very good bang for the buck.”

The proposed pumps would cost in the neighborhood of $400 million.

Some environmentalists fear the pumps could dry out Delta wetlands and impact native wildlife.

“They had 68 years to build the pumps before that EPA veto and there’s a reason that they did not get it built. They’re expensive, considering how many people are actually affected by it over there, it’s a very rural sparsely populated area,” said Miller.

The pumps would be built near the Steele Bayou flood control structure.

Supporters say they could help drain out the backwater in the event of a flood, providing relief to farmers and homeowners.

Sierra Club members are asking... but at what cost?