Tuesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they would be opening the Muddy Bayou Control Structure to lower the level of Eagle Lake.
Some residents want the structure opened further to allow for a faster drawdown so that they might attempt to repair flood damage from 2019 and this year. To achieve that goal, the lake level would need to be lowered to 75 feet or below.
Residents are also extremely concerned about boats running over boathouses, piers and submerged debris due to the current high level.
Six government entities have some form of jurisdiction over Eagle Lake. The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, along with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have regulatory authority over the waterway. In addition, the USACE, Warren County, Madison Parish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service all have some form of jurisdiction over aspects of the lake.
Two documents govern the lake levels: a 1984 Resolution and the 2000 Eagle Lake Water Level Management Agreement. Property owners in the area feel these documents are obsolete and do not consider the recent flooding or the additional damage caused by the inability to make necessary repairs last year. After months of being flooded, the lake began to rise again in October 2019 shortly after reaching 75 feet.
Property owners also feel it is long overdue that they have a seat at the table for any discussion regarding the Eagle Lake community. As seen in the documents, they are not represented in either. Warren County also does not have a representative on the Mississippi Levee Board which has authority over the levees surrounding the lake.
Ann Dahl is a retiree living in the area who created a website, finishthepumps.com, as flood water inundated her and her neighbor’s property. She has become an expert on all things having to do with flooding in the area.
On Tuesday she wrote the following email:
I was very disturbed today to learn of the official plan to draw down Eagle Lake at a rate of 0.1 to 0.2 feet per day. With the lake currently at 9 feet above the agreed upon summer level, a drawdown at that rate would reach normal winter levels around the middle of October. For the last two years the Yazoo Backwater and the lake levels have begun their rise around the first of October. At the rate you are planning, same as last year we will have no opportunity to stabilize our badly damaged banks in order to withstand next year’s floods.
During the last year’s draw down, the first three weeks were at a rate of 0.55 feet a day and slightly slower after that. About all we had time to do was clean up debris and assess damages. There are just a few contractors willing to do bank work here and with over 500 lake front lots, the vast majority of us were forced into this year’s flood with unstable banks. You are now forcing the same scenario on us again.
Your plan does not take into account that you are trying to remove 10 feet of water from this lake. Our banks have already suffered major damage due to the last two years of flooding and we need to get the water out sooner than later. The damage done by a faster drawdown will be minuscule compared to not having the time to stabilize the bank this year.
The Eagle Lake lake front property owners have suffered upwards of 30 million dollars in uncompensated damages due to backwater flooding effects on the lake in the last two years. We will not stand by idly while you interpret the agreement to accommodate recreational boaters and fishermen over us.
The Eagle Lake Water Level Management Agreement is an outdated document based on the flooding we have been getting for the last ten years. It is designed to control the lake levels without the addition of backwater flooding and unprecedented precipitation. We are requesting a drawdown rate equal to last year, lowering of the lake below winter level to allow bank stabilization, a new agreement and property owner representation in the agreement.
This is a very delicate issue for a lot of people. Many have lost their homes in the past 18 months while others are watching their property values diminish with each wave that takes a little more of their lake front investment.
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