At a meeting this morning, the Levee Board again pushed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to justify the $4 million the Corps has said it will cost just to revisit the feasibility and costs of two controversial Lakes plans it says are unlikely to happen.
The Rankin-Hinds Pearl Flood and Drainage Control District Levee Board re-affirmed its request today to the Corps to be more specific on an expensive flood-control estimate the Corps gave to the board earlier this year. The board asked the Corps to look at all options for a flood-control plan for the section of the Pearl River extending between Hinds and Rankin counties. Two plans are popular with the board; both involve flooding the river and creating lakes of varying size.
The Corps has advised the levee board to pursue a levees-only plan, however, due to potential environmental complications and legal problems involved in flooding a wetlands area surrounding the river, and emphasizes that it will cost too much to study plans that have a minimal chance of being enacted.
In recent months, the Corps has made clear that an environmentally unfriendly flood-control plan would be politically infeasible to pursue; thus, studying the Lakes plans further would cost needless money and delay. Instead, the Corps says to move quickly on building stronger levees, instead of more delays.
"The money's here (for levees). Let's do it. If not, we need to let go of this money," Corps Deputy Chief of Public Affairs Kavanaugh Breazelle said today.
The board asked the Corps this summer to do a highly detailed cost analysis of both lake plans and the levees-only plan, but the Corps responded that such an analysis would run $4 million, with the cash needed up front before the Corps could move forward.
Levee board members then asked the Corps to back up its cost estimate, though board member and Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. said today that resolution was not reflected in the minutes of the last meeting. "The Corps told us at a briefing that it would take four years and $4 million. There were some concerns if that were the actual case, so we made a resolution at the last meeting for them to look at a (request) we'd written earlier and give us an idea of what the costs would be, something more than just 'four years and $4 million,'" Johnson said.
They still want this?