The Senate adopted funding allocations for erosion control measures, the Yazoo River channel enlargement project, and all other Delta flood control projects.

Northwest Mississippi will see improved flood protection benefits due to recent measures offered by Mississippi members of Congress.

The House Appropriations Committee added funding for erosion control measures along hillside tributaries between the Delta and the hill areas of the state, according to members of the Stoneville, Miss.-based Delta Council.

Among the measures was language added by Rep. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., for watershed protection measures on Black Creek in Holmes County, Abiaca Creek and a large number of other important projects.

“Rep. Wicker obviously recognizes the keen importance of the erosion control projects for Mississippi in the Corps of Engineers budget, and without this federal funding, it would be impossible for the local interests to bear the total expense of funding these measures,” said Tom Gary, chairman of the Council's Flood Control Committee.

The Yazoo River channel enlargement project also received a significant increase in funding due to the efforts of Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson. Thompson successfully obtained a level of funding in the House appropriations measure which would enable the channel enlargement project on the Yazoo River to finally reach Greenwood and points north through the Tallahatchie and Coldwater River system.

“This is a major milestone in support for flood protection of the eastern side of the Mississippi Delta,” said Gary, a farmer from Leflore County.

“A 1991-type flood on the Yazoo River will be 3 feet lower when such an event occurs in the future, and due to the channel enlargement from Greenwood south, residents and property owners will experience less than half the flood damages and a much shorter duration of flooding simply because the river has more capacity to carry and evacuate floodwaters on our flat land,” noted Mike Sturdivant Jr., a Leflore County businessman and farmer.

The Senate, behind the leadership of Senate Appropriations Committee member Thad Cochran, adopted funding allocations for erosion control measures, the Yazoo River channel enlargement project, and all other Delta flood control projects, including Sunflower River channel maintenance work, the Yazoo Backwater Project, and the project on Black Bayou and Main Canal in the vicinity of Greenville and Washington County.

The Sunflower River channel maintenance project is aimed at restoring the channel of the Sunflower River from Highway 82 south to its 1965 carrying capacity. Funds for the channel maintenance project will be utilized to continue clearing and snagging of the Sunflower River in Yazoo County.

Funds in the appropriations bill for the Yazoo Backwater Project will be used to complete the design and engineering work for the Yazoo Backwater Project, which is scheduled to commence with construction in 2003.

“If it were not for the work of Sen. Cochran and Sen. Lott over the past few years, there are communities and huge areas of the Mississippi Delta that would have witnessed no work toward progress on flood protection for the Delta,” said Gary.

“Flood control work is not a glamorous type of federal project when it comes to seeking federal support, but Sens. Cochran and Lott have always preached that infrastructure improvements are essential in the Delta if we are to sustain our local economies,” he said. “They recognize the Delta cannot move forward when a large segment of its population and property is subject to frequent flooding.”