Last week, our Agency and the Department of Marine Resources, testified before the Mississippi River Commission on their annual Low-Water Inspection Trip. The Mississippi Coast has been devastated this year, effects which are sure to last for years to come, due to the repeated large volume opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. The entire testimony is on our website (www.sos.ms.gov).
We asked the Commission to study the operation of the Bonnet Carré Spillway in conjunction with the Morganza Floodway. We also asked that a separate Environmental Impact Study be conducted to include the effects of freshwater intrusion into the Mississippi Sound.
It is our position the Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have the authority and flexibility to regulate the discharge of sediment laden water to both the east and the west sides of the Mississippi River under the 1928 Flood Control Act and subsequent acts and regulations.
The state recognizes the Corps is managing a significant historic flooding event and also recognizes the Corps must operate the Mississippi River Valley for the good of every citizen. However, we believe the Morganza Floodway can be operated in unison with the Bonnet Carré Spillway. It is our position the Corps has the flexibility in the law and in their regulations to divert some of the floodwater and thereby, diverting damages away from Mississippi.
These damages include the loss of 95% of our oyster harvest, 55% of our shrimp harvest, and a continuing algae bloom closing our beaches. Our One Coast will be years in recovering.
Unfortunately, we do not believe this disaster on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a one-time event. The time for the Corps and Mississippi River Commission to address these issues is now. They have the authority under the law and regulations to act. We are asking the Corps to mitigate the damages to Mississippi by simultaneously opening these spillways during future flood events.
As the State Land Commissioner, I intend to protect Mississippi’s land, water, and resources. I have done so in the past, and I will continue to fight for solutions now and in the future.
Delbert Hosemann is Mississippi Secretary of State.