Mississippi News

Yazoo Backwater Study Area Draft Environmental Impact Statement to publish

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, announces the publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Yazoo Backwater Study Area (YSA) project on Friday, June 28 and requests public feedback by Aug. 12. Collaboratively developed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the proposal reflects a commitment to public engagement and interagency water management. This milestone marks a significant step forward in addressing flood risk management within the YSA during high Mississippi River flood events.

The Yazoo Backwater area, situated in Mississippi, experiences recurrent flooding due to rain accumulation behind levees within the YSA drainage system. The DEIS proposes a new, innovative water management plan that integrates structural and non-structural elements to address flooding while prioritizing environmental considerations and minimizing wetland impacts. Building upon decades of public input, novel interagency partnerships, and a comprehensive dataset enriched by new environmental and hydrologic data, the approach to developing solutions to the YSA are considerably different than past efforts.

The proposed water management plan for the YSA will reduce backwater flood risk to local communities and agricultural production, while minimizing impacts to important wetland resources. The Corps is committing to secure mitigation for the approximately 1,200 acres of historically unmitigated wetland impacts required for existing projects in the Basin. In addition, all mitigation necessary to fully offset unavoidable impacts of the new proposal to wetlands, as well as fish, wildlife, and their habitats, will be secured prior to initiation of project construction.

“The release of the draft environmental impact statement for the Yazoo Backwater Area project represents a true whole of government approach to address the destructive impacts of prolonged flooding to communities in rural Mississippi,” Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor said. “This multi-agency effort considers a wide range of factors in developing a new proposed water management plan, among other alternatives, that fully evaluates how best to protect people, infrastructure, and wildlife from devastating floods while minimizing impacts to the environment.”

The DEIS will be available for public review and comment for a period of 45 days starting June 28. The comment period will conclude on August 12, 2024. The DEIS reflects open dialogue with affected communities and stakeholders and the Corps looks forward to continuing to hear from communities, the public, and interested parties during the public comment period to ensure all interested parties have an opportunity to be heard. All input provided will be considered in the development of the final environmental impact statement.  In person and virtual public sessions will also be scheduled to provide additional opportunities for engagement. Details regarding these sessions will be posted to the website below when available.

For more information about the Yazoo Backwater Study Area DEIS, including how to access the document and participate in the public comment process, visit: https://www.mvk.usace.army.mil/Missions/Programs-and-Project-Management/Yazoo-Backwater/ <https://www.mvk.usace.army.mil/Missions/Programs-and-Project-Management/Yazoo-Backwater/> .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *