One Lake project ‘not justified,’ in Pearl River Flood Risk Mitigation report

Published 3:00 pm Friday, June 7, 2024

MONTICELLO — United States Army Corps of Engineers released a 300 page report on the Pearl River Flood Risk Mitigation Plan Friday. In summary, the report deals a blow to proponents of a “One Lake,” project in Jackson while stating more planning is needed. Monticello will host a public comment meeting on July 11. 

The “One Lake,”  project is part of Alternative C, a plan to construct a new weir and create a new recreational lake. However, the USACE report states the plan would only cause headwater flooding for other tributaries and potentially flood roadways without addressing flood issues. It would also have conservation impacts. 

“This alternative would have adverse impacts to the environment requiring mitigation and compensatory habitat mitigation along with associated monitoring and adaptive management plans,” the summary stated. “Alternative C, as presented in the Section 211 Report, is not justified under the traditional USACE benefit-cost analysis.” 

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USACE finds the “One Lake,” project would cost nearly $2.1 billion and reduce flooding damage by $8.6 million a year. 

The purpose of the study was to determine if there was any way the Corps could limit flood risk in Jackson and Pearl without adversely affecting the environment and communities downstream at cost effective levels. 

Headwater flooding has been an issue in Jackson for close to 100 years. The USACE states the area of flood risk includes 5,000 commercial and residential structures and affects a population of over 500,000. Notable floods in the area include the Easter Flood of 1979, the May Flood of 1983, and the February flood of 2020. 

Check back next week for a follow up with Monticello’s Mayor Martha Watts and what the report means for downstream communities.

Alternative CTO

It is possible that Alternative combination thereof, or CTO,  could be chosen. It could include parts of Alternative A1, reduced excavation of the main river channel, federal levee improvements, new weir and fish ladder, utilization of existing weir, levees, countermeasures for bridges and a year round recreational lake among others to make a new plan. 

USACE identified Alternative CTO with weir as a preliminary National Economic Development plan. It  also “minimizes implementation risks, maximizes the difference between monetized benefits and costs, and satisfies the USACE Planning Principles and Guidelines (P&G) criteria of completeness, effectiveness, efficiency, and acceptability,” the USACE reports. 

In a summary discussion section, the USACE discussed what is next for the project. 

“Regardless of the plan that is chosen by the ASA-CW, given the magnitude of the Pearl River Basin, Mississippi, flood risk, water supply and water quality concerns, it has become apparent that a systematic approach involving multiple projects from several different programs would be required to effectively deal with the magnitude of the concerns identified,” the summary states. “To fully understand the hydrology and hydrodynamic conditions of the Pearl River Basin, a Watershed study, under Section 729 of the WRDA of 1986, would be highly beneficial.”

Public comment period

During the review period, USACE will conduct public meetings to receive feedback and accept comments from the public on the DEIS.

A virtual meeting is tentatively scheduled for the week of June 24, 2024. Specific details regarding this meeting will be posted on the USACE Vicksburg page as soon as they are available.

In-person public meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • Wednesday, July 10 – 2:00PM – Mississippi Public Broadcasting Auditorium, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211
  • Wednesday, July 10 – 6:00PM – Mississippi Trade Mart, 1200 Mississippi St, Jackson, MS 39202
  • Thursday, July 11 – 11:00AM – Slidell Municipal Auditorium, 2056 2nd Street, Slidell, LA 70458
  • Thursday, July 11 – 6:00PM – Monticello Civic Center, 125 E Broad Street, Monticello, MS