Local Citizens make plea to US ARMY Corps of Engineers to Address flooding, water supply, and quality of life in Jackson

JACKSON, Miss. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held two listening sessions Wednesday at the Mississippi Agriculture Museum’s Sparkman Auditorium on Lakeland Drive to gain additional stakeholder opinions, thoughts, and concerns related to the Pearl River Flood control efforts. The Great City MS Foundation was one of many organizations and individuals who called on the Corps to approve the locally designed project because of its ability to comprehensively address the twin threats of flooding and water insecurity.

The Pearl River has a history of causing devastating floods in Jackson, most recently in 2020 and 2022. This latest flood, combined with other infrastructure challenges that underly a city of Jackson’s age, resulted in a collapse of the water supply system that crippled many Jackson businesses and more importantly, has deprived many of our more disadvantaged residents of that most basic of human needs— clean, drinkable water.

“We view this as a Pearl River Restoration and Resiliency Project that seeks, first and foremost, to provide a viable and vetted plan for flood control. Through river resiliency, we can help avoid the devastating flooding that has impacted our most disadvantaged citizens,” said Taylor Nicholas, Executive Director of the Great City MS Foundation. “The project also provides the opportunity for reliable, clean water supply across Jackson’s footprint. In addition, it reconnects the city to its urban waterfront that will drive investment and economic growth in Jackson in the vein of other great cities such as San Antonio, Tulsa, and Cincinnati.”

The locally driven plan addresses the major issues facing our Capitol region – flooding, water supply, and declining population and economic opportunity. This one project can address each of those challenges and set Jackson on a new trajectory of resiliency and restoration. The project is supported by many stakeholders, including Ted Henifin, the Interim Third-Party Manager (ITPM) appointed by Judge Henry Wingate to restore and stabilize Jackson’s water system.

“The ITPM supports the Channel Improvements Plan (Alternative C) because it preserves the broadest options for Jackson’s long-term drinking water needs. With a new weir, relocated to RM 284.3, a new water intake structure could be located anywhere along the river from the current location downstream to the new weir. Having more options would allow optimization of siting the plant to provide significant community benefits, elimination of flood risk to plant facilities, and target the best hydraulic location for pumping water throughout the system without limitations created by the location of the existing weir,” said Henifin.

After the most recent flood and water crisis, the Corps’ leadership, Secretary Michael Connor, set aside $221 million in funding for the flood control project and Congress appropriated $600 million to address Jackson’s water insecurity.

“Jackson needs this. We need this,” said Bishop Ronnie Crudup, Sr., Senior Pastor of New Horizon Church International. “Our building was flooded in 1979 and 1983, and thankfully we were able to bounce back, but what happens next time? Or the time after that? What happens to our neighbors? This can’t keep going unaddressed. It’s time to act and to protect the people of Jackson.”

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a generational impact that will have an outsized positive effect for many of our most challenged residents. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Wicker, Congressman Thompson, and Secretary Connor we have the resources to actually address flooding and water supply,” said Nicholas. “It is not just a choice to do this, it is our duty to do this. Times like this, when we have the resources and opportunity to take action and do so much good are few and far between. Let’s not waste our opportunity. Let’s restore the Pearl River. Let’s ensure Jackson will be resilient. Let’s do what is right to further build our Great City,”

Taylor Nicholas
Executive Director
Great City Mississippi Foundation greatcityms@gmail.com