Recent actions by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the results of the November Miss. Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting are both relevant to the Pearl River and the threat posed to it by the One Lake project in Jackson, Ms.
A September algae bloom on Eubanks Creek in Jackson, sparked by a sewage spill, shows what is happening on the Pearl River’s urban tributaries. The implications for the Rankin Hinds Drainage District’s One Lake plan are that nutrients from the urban creeks are easily captured in a wide, slow flowing lake section made by dredging and further damming the Pearl River. If Jackson’s sewage issues are not addressed, the lake can grow the same kind of harmful algae blooms as Eubanks Creek.
Healthy Gulf joined American Rivers, National Audubon Society and Sierra Club in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, asking a federal judge to rule on whether EPA’s 2008 Clean Water Act veto of the Yazoo Backwater Pump project still applies to a 2020 Army Corps of Engineers re-do. The project’s pumping capacity and purpose remain the same as the earlier project which was vetoed during the George W. Bush Administration. The project’s impacts to wetlands and habitats remain significant in the 2020 re-do version, and the Conservation Groups maintain that the veto still prohibits the pumps. EPA has used a Clean Water Act veto on a development project 13 times since 1972. The agency has slightly modified some vetoes after-the-fact, but has never completely revoked one.
The controversial Yazoo Backwater Area pump project in the lower Mississippi Delta is again being advanced by the Army Corps of Engineers and the State of Mississippi. Much weight is given to a single new piece of Corps-sponsored research on soil moisture that the agency uses to conclude that a large pumping plant will not cause present wetland areas to change to non-wetland classification. The Corps’s justification of the pumps on these wetland effects is presented in a new Supplemental EIS that could open the door for the Environmental Protection Agency to revisit and rescind its 2008 veto of the project under the Clean Water Act.
This summary of news relevant to the Pearl River so far in 2020 includes notes on Jackson’s “One Lake” project, recent letters to the Secretary of the Army from Louisiana and Mississippi, Jackson Mississippi’s continuing sewage spills, the Pearl River Map Turtle’s status under the Endangered Species Act, and the Pearl River Clean Sweep – river clean up days in September.
A recent federal court suit by Healthy Gulf and the Center for Biological Diversity resulted in a settlement that requiries the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop delaying the listing determination under the Endangered Species Act for two map turtles. These turtles are endemics in the Pearl and Pascagoula River systems, and have been surveyed recently for the health of their populations.