Will there be recreational benefits of the project?

The project is designed to reconnect our communities to the Pearl River in a way that is not currently possible. There will be multi-purpose trails throughout, boat ramps on both the Hinds and Rankin county sides, and other riverfront amenities planned for the project. The project will also create river bottom that is good for fish habitats, creating opportunities for anglers from around the region. There are at least two waterfront parks planned and possibly additional outdoor venues as well. Finally, the project will also improve Town Creek that flows into downtown near the Jackson Convention Center, Mississippi Museum of Art, Westin Hotel, and other businesses, providing a water feature in the heart of downtown Jackson.
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Will there be public access to the river?

One of the great benefits of this flood control project is that it reconnects our communities to the River in a way that is not currently possible. Today, public access is primarily blocked due to the levees and the only boat ramp in the area at Mayes Lake. From there, boating activities are greatly restricted due to the existing weir directly downstream. With this project, the public will be able to access the river on both the Hinds and Rankin county sides and enjoy multi-purpose trails, boat ramps, fishing, and other waterfront amenities throughout the project site. This project will open up the Pearl River for residents of this region and tourists alike to be able to enjoy.
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What regulatory agencies have been involved?

Congress authorized the project initially in 2007. After years of discussions and scoping meetings, the Flood Control District began to prepare a Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement (FS/EIS) in 2013. In 2016, the Draft FS/EIS was completed and thus began the multi-stage evaluation process by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The Agency Technical Review, which lasted roughly one year, included Corps experts from around the country reviewing each part of the FS/EIS to ensure that the studies and assessments of flood control benefits and environmental impacts were valid. The second phase of the review included an Independent External Peer Review conducted by the Battelle Institute. They too reviewed every part of the FS/EIS to ensure that the Flood Control District adequately analyzed and mitigated against all impacts. Ten (10) federal and state regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History have been providing, and will continue to provide, comments on the project prior to final approval. After all of these reviews and additional study by the Corps of Engineers headquarters staff, the project will be assessed by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works at the Corps of Engineers in Washington, DC who has authority to provide final approval.
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What kind of contracting opportunities will be available for local firms?

Contracting opportunities and professional services opportunities will be solicited through a public process governed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Flood Control District. Opportunities will be advertised publicly so that local firms will have every chance to bid. In addition, the project will use Small and Disadvantaged Business policies that will encourage participation among those groups. Professional services are expected to be solicited six months after project approval and funding is secured. Construction related bid opportunities are expected to occur approximately one year after pre-construction engineering and design begins.
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How long will it take to construct the project?

Once construction begins, it is estimated to last for approximately three years. The majority of the construction related activities involve excavating material, hauling, and improving the levees. There is also construction of the reinforced concrete weir at the south end of the project area.
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Why is flood protection needed?

Reports of Pearl River flooding in the metropolitan area go back as far as published newspapers in Jackson. Downtown Jackson experienced regular flooding from the 1900s through the 1950s which caused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to channelize the river and build levees on the Hinds and Rankin County side in the early 1960s. The levees reduced the frequency of flooding, but in 1979 the Pearl River overtopped the Jackson Fairground levee and flooded thousands of homes and businesses and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. A similar flood occurred again just four years later in 1983. Every year, the Pearl River reaches flood stage multiple times. Another flood like the flood of 1979 would lead to damage and lost economic activity that exceeds $1 billion.
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What does the project do and how will it reduce flood risk?

The project will widen the already channelized river as it flows between Lakeland Drive and the I-20/I-55 interchange and set back portions of the existing levee system to create more conveyance and capacity. The excavated materials will be deposited adjacent to the existing levees. This project will improve flood risk management for high water events like 1979 and 1983 without backing up into neighborhoods, homes, and businesses.
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Is there a better alternative for reducing flood risk?

Fourteen alternatives, both structural and non-structural (buyouts), were reviewed through the FS/EIS process. Many more options have been discussed historically since the 1979 flood. Through extensive review and consideration of alternatives, the Flood Control District selected the current design as the locally preferred plan because it was the most technically feasible, environmentally sound, and cost effective option. Other alternatives, such a more extensive levee system or property buyouts, would be much more expensive than the proposed project and would not meet the Cost-Benefit Ratio as mandated by the Corps. Under the buyout option, there would be thousands of structures – including hospitals, state-owned property, and Jackson’s Central Business District – that would have to be purchased, condemned, and relocated out of the flood footprint. This is obviously an impractical and cost-prohibitive option.
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How was the footprint of the project chosen?

First, the project is not a lake but rather a widening of the river through the most populated portions of the path of the river. The footprint of the project area was chosen for a variety of reasons – engineering, hydrology, and geography – all driven by Corps of Engineers rules regarding flood risk reduction and a Cost-Benefit Ratio. In many cases, local features were taken into account in the design of the project. For instance, the project was laid out so as to not take in Mayes Lake, thereby preserving that area for its existing purposes and improving recreational opportunities.
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Will this project reduce water flows on the Pearl River south of the project area?

This issue has been studied extensively. There will be no discernible variance in the amount of water flowing in from the Ross Barnett Reservoir to the amount flowing out of the project area to the downstream channel. The same minimum flow requirements on the Reservoir will apply to this project. If there are extreme drought conditions, emergency gates in the weir have been added to the design that can be opened to allow the required minimum flow to continue. Furthermore, approximately two-thirds of the Pearl River Watershed is runoff from south of the project location, so the Jackson area is not the only driver of water levels in the southern parts of the watershed.
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How will another dam on the river impact the Pearl River?

This project will not build a dam like what is in place at the Reservoir, rather the existing weir located at the Water Works curve will be removed and relocated approximately four miles south. A weir is designed so that water flows over the top at all times. Water flowing in from the Ross Barnett Reservoir would flow out of the project area to the downstream channel, in accordance with existing permits, regulations, and inter-agency agreements. If there are extreme drought conditions, emergency gates in the weir have been added to the design that can be opened to allow the required minimum flow to continue.
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Will evaporation in the project area reduce water levels in the Pearl River south of the project area?

A detailed analysis of average daily flows and evaporation at the proposed project site indicates the potential for 2.5 - 10.1 cubic feet per second (cfs) to be lost to evaporation. Put in context, the historic average annual flow in Jackson is 4,187 cfs. This evaporation estimate does not include the increases in water levels that will occur as a result of rainfall in the project area becoming direct surface water as opposed to the current conditions where it falls upon soil and vegetation and is absorbed. Furthermore, approximately two-thirds of the Pearl River Watershed is runoff from south of the project location, so the Jackson area is not the only driver of water levels in the southern parts of the watershed. If rainfall and other downstream factors do not come into play, project engineers estimate that water flows could decrease by 0.06% at the Bogalusa gauge.
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Will the project hurt the oyster industry on the Coast?

There will be no discernible difference in the amount of water flowing in from the Ross Barnett Reservoir to the amount flowing out of the project area to the downstream channel. The project will be required to meet minimum outflow levels required by permits and regulations. Emergency gates have been added to the weir to ensure that minimum levels are always achieved even in extreme drought conditions. With no perceptible decrease in water flowing downstream from Jackson, and with two-thirds of the Pearl River Watershed actually south of Jackson, the project should have no impact on salinity levels in the Gulf. Furthermore, the project would result in beneficial impacts on water quality by eliminating the use of chemical sprays used to remove vegetation inside the current levees during maintenance work. In addition, the proposed project includes removal of existing unpermitted solid waste disposal sites in the floodplain and removal and capping of an existing hazardous waste site, which should reduce future contamination from these existing sources.
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Does the project impact wetlands and endangered species in the project area?

A major focus of the multi-year study process was looking at impacts to the environment and threatened and endangered species. The Corps of Engineers and several other agencies and independent teams will review those findings prior to approving the project. The project team thoroughly reviewed whether threatened or endangered species live in the project area, and if so, how to mitigate impacts from the project. It is believed that the Gulf Sturgeon does not migrate north to the study area due to impediments in the Pearl River south of the area. However, the project includes sturgeon migration monitoring, and potentially a fish passage around the weir if it is determined that the species is present in the project area. The Ringed Sawback Turtle is present in the project area, but the channelized river and levees created by the Corps in the 1960s is not reflective of its natural habitat. The project design will include a designated turtle sanctuary and additional mitigation measures to support the turtle population. Finally, there will be wetland impacts but the project budget includes funds to mitigate those impacts by restoring, improving, or conserving considerably more wetlands, as required by law.
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Will this project give wealthy landowners more say over how much water to release from the Jackson metro area?

First, the improved land surrounding the widened river will be owned by a public body – the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District – and not individual landowners. Secondly, there will not be a dam at the southern end of the project area, rather the existing weir located at Water Works curve will be moved four miles south. The weir will not have the ability to mechanically hold back water in the project area. There will be an emergency gate that can be opened in the event of extreme drought so that water flows are always maintained in accordance with the permit.
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Who is the developer pushing this project?

The public Flood Control District is the local sponsor for the project and has been integral to the development of the FS/EIS. The Flood Control District, in conjunction with the Corps of Engineers, will oversee the design and construction of the project. The improved property within the project footprint will be owned by the Flood Control District.
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Who owns the land that will be acquired for the project?

Approximately half of the property is owned by a public entity, either the Flood Control District, the State of Mississippi, or one of the adjacent cities. The other half is owned by private landowners. The public Flood Control District will acquire all property that is required to construct the project.
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If I am a landowner whose land must be purchased for the project, what will happen?

Landowners of property needed for the project will be contacted by a land agent to begin the process. Federal law requires any land acquisition for a public project treat all owners of real property “fairly and consistently.” This means the land needed for the project will be appraised using federal standards. After the appraisal, the landowner will get an offer outlining the compensation package and negotiations, if necessary. The District will be required to pay a Fair Market Value.
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How will the Flood Control District determine the cost to acquire property?

This will be as transparent a process as possible. Federal law will govern how the District and individual landowners settle on a price. The property must be appraised using federal standards and the final price must adhere to federal guidelines on Fair Market Value.
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Once the project is completed, will I still have to buy flood insurance?

FEMA will redraw the flood maps for the area and once the project is completed, many areas in Hinds and Rankin Counties will come out of the 100-year flood plain as a result of this project. While it is always good policy to have insurance, federally-backed mortgages will not require flood insurance if your home is no longer in the 100-year flood plain.
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Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood & Drainage Control District
P.O. Box 320790, Flowood, MS 39232