Pearl River lake meeting set for Tuesday

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District will host a public meeting Tuesday evening at Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library to discuss plans to alleviate flooding and create a lake in the Jackson metropolitan area.

A possible proposed plan is to create a 1,500-acre lake on the Pearl River near Jackson with a low-head dam near Interstate 20.

The meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. and the public can submit written or oral comments about the proposed project.

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Initially scheduled for Sept. 19, the meeting was postponed by the District following questions, for which it did not have answers, regarding the impact caused down river from the project, said Attorney Keith Turner.

“This Draft Feasibility Study/Environmental Impact Statement will examine all reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts,” a press release from the District stated regarding the second scoping meeting for the public.

Partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the District has been conducting a re-analysis of all engineering, economic and environmental factors related.

The Gulf Restoration Network openly “opposes any more dams on the Pearl River,” said Andrew Whitehurst, water policy director for the Network.

Also in opposition, the St. Tammany Parish Council, whose members passed a resolution opposing the project on Sept. 5, and requested a meeting with the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the proposal.

District 14 Councilman for St. Tammany Parish, Thomas J. Smith, said he hopes other components of the project will be taken into consideration.

Whitehurst mentioned the evaporative loss of fresh water as a result of a larger lake surface area.

Many things would be affected if evaporative loss occurred. “Salinity levels are a key concern for oysters,” said John Tesvich, Chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force.

Tesvich said a moderate salinity level is “critical for growing oysters” in the Mississippi Sound. “I presume a dam will restrict the flow and they (oysters) will not be getting enough fresh water,” he said.

Oysters are not the only species threatened. Whitehurst said Gulf sturgeon and the ringed sawback turtle are two of the federally protected species known to be in the proposed project area.

Written questions, comments or suggestions may be submitted to the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District no later than Nov. 29.