Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov) announced its final decision under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to prohibit construction of the proposed Yazoo Pumps Project in the Mississippi Delta. According to the EPA, it is taking this action following an extensive evaluation of the environmental impacts the project poses to tens of thousands of acres of wetlands and other water resources.
The cost of the Yazoo Pumps Project is estimated at $220 million for construction, with an annual operational cost of more than two million dollars. In a prepared statement, the EPA says it is committed to working with other federal and state agencies, and the public, to identify an alternative project for providing improved flood protection in the Mississippi Delta.
The Yazoo Backwater Project is a federally funded U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal first authorized in 1941, designed to reduce flooding in an area in the state of Mississippi between the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers. The primary component is a 14,000 cubic feet per second pumping station that would pump rainwater out of the South Delta during high water events on the Mississippi River. The Yazoo Backwater Area contains some of the richest wetland and aquatic resources in the nation and serves as critical fish and wildlife habitat. The EPA’s decision was based largely on its belief that the proposed project would result in unacceptable damage to these resources. Under the CWA, the EPA can prohibit, restrict, or deny using waters of the United States as a disposal site for fill material when it determines it will have an unacceptable effect on municipal water supplies, shellfish beds and fishery areas, wildlife, or recreational areas. EPA has used this CWA authority only 11 times since the law was passed in 1972.
For more information on the Yazoo Pumps Project decision, visit www.epa.gov/404c.