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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seek Public Feedback on Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Yazoo Backwater Project



VICKSBURG, Miss. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, published the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Yazoo Backwater Study Area (YSA) project on Friday, June 28, 2024. The Corps invites public feedback on the DEIS by August 12, 2024. Developed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this proposal shows a commitment to public engagement and interagency water management. This milestone marks a significant step forward in managing flood risk within the YSA during high Mississippi River flood events.

Addressing Recurrent Flooding

Located in Mississippi, the Yazoo Backwater area experiences frequent flooding due to rain accumulation behind levees within the YSA drainage system. The DEIS proposes a new, innovative water management plan. This plan integrates both structural and non-structural elements to address flooding. It prioritizes environmental considerations and minimizes wetland impacts. The approach is built upon decades of public input, new interagency partnerships, and enriched environmental and hydrologic data. It significantly differs from past efforts.

The proposed water management plan for the YSA aims to reduce backwater flood risk to local communities and agricultural production. It also seeks to minimize impacts on important wetland resources. The Corps commits to securing mitigation for about 1,200 acres of historically unmitigated wetland impacts required for existing projects in the Basin. The Corps will also secure all necessary mitigation to fully offset unavoidable impacts of the new proposal on wetlands, as well as fish, wildlife, and their habitats, before starting project construction.

A Whole-of-Government Approach

“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,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael Connor. “This multi-agency effort considers a wide range of factors in developing a new proposed water management plan. Among other alternatives, it 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 45 days starting June 28, 2024. The comment period will conclude on August 12, 2024. The DEIS reflects open dialogue with affected communities and stakeholders. The Corps looks forward to hearing from communities, the public, and interested parties during the public comment period. This ensures all voices are heard. The Corps will consider all input 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.

For more information about the Yazoo Backwater Study Area DEIS, including how to access the document and participate in the public comment process, click here.

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