Letter to the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors: Proposed Lake Troy project

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gentlemen of the Board, please allow me to address the Lake Troy project issue that has been addressed by the Board, but is presently tabled for later consideration. The project has been presented as an economic development effort consisting of a 952 acre lake. 

It is not my desire to stifle, or kill, economic development which we definitely need.  However, neither is it my desire to see county money spent when proper early decisions might avoid costly mistakes.

Immediately, I see one risk which could result in failure to secure the construction permit for the project. The project’s present configuration requires a dam on East Boley Creek to divert water to Lake Troy.  Ultimately, this diversion will reduce the fresh water inflow from the East Pearl River into the Mississippi Sound.  Herein lies the crux of the problem to obtain the needed permit for the project.

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An initial investigation could be accomplished by the Board, or the administrator, with a visit to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. The MDMR writes the permits for the U.S. Corps Of Engineers for projects within our coastal zone.  However, it then seeks approvals of the USCOE and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality before being granted.  Senator Angela Hill could assist in setting up an informal “Due Diligence” inquiry from the Board of Supervisors to the MDMR about the feasibility of the dam for the project.

To show that the diversion of water by the dam could present a problem, I direct your attention to the MDMR’s web site:  www.dmr.state.ms.us.

Look to the lower left side of the home page to see a link entitled:  The Governor’s Oyster Council, Restoration and Resiliency, Final Report, June, 2015.

This explains Governor Bryant’s Executive Order 1350, dated February 2, 2015, to establish this Council.  You can then download the Council’s report noted above.  This is a 72 page report explaining the strategies and goal of harvesting 1 million sacks of oysters from the Mississippi Sound by the year 2025.  It discusses the  importance  of fresh water inflow for seafood growth.  Executive Order No. 1350 is the hurdle that could take precedence over Pearl River County’s  project.

Dr. Benjamin Posadas is a marine economist with MSU’s Research and Extension Center of Gulfport, and serves as a member of the Governor’s Oyster Council.  He provided the following information that gave the impetus for Executive Order 1350 as follows:

Mississippi Sound’s total economic impact (includes seafood and recreational fishing)   

No. Jobs

2007 $921 million       11,725

2014 $573 million         8,891

This data reflects the negative effects on the Mississippi Sound’s contribution to Mississippi’s economy caused by Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and the Bonnet Carre Spillway openings in 2009 and 2011.

Considering the $348 million dollar loss in economic impact, along with the 2,834 jobs lost during the time span addressed, the decision makers easily recognized the gravity of the economic situation.  To grant a permit for a construction project that reduces fresh water inflow to the Mississippi Sound clearly compromises the recovery efforts for the two established industries with many millions of dollars of infrastructure in place. 

Performing the above referenced initial investigation could prove  beneficial to the county’s financial well being. 

Respectfully Submitted,

Aaron L. Russell, Sr.