Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson joined the EPA and Army Department to stress the urgency to finish the Yazoo Backwater Area pumps during the Agricultural Leader Roundtable Meeting in Vicksburg.
For years, statewide officials have pushed for the completion of the project, stressing the need for the federal government to construct a pumping station to successfully deliver effective flood protection to the Yazoo Backwater Area of the South Delta.
“The Yazoo Backwater Area of Mississippi has experienced significant flooding nine out of the past 12 years, which has devastated local economies and natural resources. If the pump station was in place, much of this man-made devastation could have been prevented,” Gipson stated. “If action is not taken, it will happen again. The time for talk is over, and the time for action is now. It is time to finish the pumps.”
The region experienced the highest backwater flood events in 2019 and 2020 since the Yazoo Backwater Levee and Drainage Structures were constructed in 1978.
In 2019, more than 550,000 acres flooded, of which over 225,000 acres were agricultural cropland. The flooding had an estimated $617 million impact due to damaged crops. Within the flooded region, 687 homes were affected, with at least 252 categorized as having major damage or destroyed.
In 2020, approximately 490,000 acres flooded in the area. Of those acres, 196,000 acres were cropland.
Gipson argues that the completion of the pumps could have prevented the flooding. He is now encouraging federal officials to revitalize the project and sees it as a long-term solution for the continuous flooding damages.
“We desperately need reliable access to this South Delta farmland so our farmers can continue doing the work to keep America fed and clothed,” Gipson added. “We have strong confidence in the research of the USACE, and we believe the pumps provide the long-term solution necessary to alleviate the perpetual flooding in the South Delta. We look forward to working with you to see the pumps completed and protect the Yazoo Backwater Area as soon as practical.”
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