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One Lake must meet with locals on project

An estimated $345 million flood control project on the Pearl River has drawn opposition from environmental groups and several governments downstream from Jackson, including in Monticello.

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District held a public hearing Tuesday in Jackson over the One Lake Project. The project is an attempt to prevent a flood like one that devastated the Jackson area in 1979, but critics have cautioned it will reduce flow downstream and lead to erosion problems as well as threaten endangered species.

“We’re being very adamant to the state Legislature, to the U.S. Congress, that this project, as it sits right now, does not need to move forward,” said Dave Nichols, president of the Lawrence County Community Development Foundation. “We want them to know this project does not do everything it says it will do.”

Nichols and other Pearl River promoters are worried the One Lake Project will cause lower water levels on the Pearl that will increase erosion, harm delicate ecosystems and hurt river-dependent industries. Like the river, the opposition stretches all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Aldermen of the Town of Monticello in March passed a resolution against the One Lake Project, and the Lawrence County Board of Supervisors has passed a similar measure. The Marion County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution against the project back in February, and several Louisiana governments — Bogalusa, Pearl River, Washington Parish and St. Tammany Parish — stand against it.

The hearing in Jackson lacked a question-and-answer period, so it’s unclear how useful it was. Two more public meetings are scheduled in August, in Pearlington and in Slidell, Louisiana. But as of right, there apparently are no hearings in the middle stretch of the river, and that’s worrisome.

Lawrence and Marion counties stand to be affected by this project, and not just from an environmental standpoint. In Monticello, one of the biggest concerns is Georgia Pacific, which depends on the river to manufacture paper and pulp products. Any changes to the river have the potential to impact the company.

We encourage project supporters and developers to hold a public hearing in Lawrence County, and give attendees an opportunity to answer questions. Anything less will lead to public backlash and less support for this project. Local businesses and residents deserve to hear about the project from the folks who are backing it.