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Groups Look to Federal Bill to Protect Pearl River

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Groups Look to Federal Bill to Protect Pearl River
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1979 Photo of Pearl River Flooding
Courtesy: Rankin Hinds District

Mississippi environmental groups hope a federal bill President Donald Trump is expected to sign will end a proposed project they say is destructive.

Critics of a proposed plan called the "One Lake" project say it will devastate Mississippi's Pearl River and the environment downstream. Jill Mastrototaro is with Audubon Mississippi. She says One Lake involves damming and dredging the Pearl River.

"The project would dredge 10 miles of the Pearl River and it would destroy over 2,500 acres of wildlife habitat," said Mastrototaro.

Mastrototaro says a major concern is the hazardous waste sites that would be dredged, the impact of the contamination on the Pearl River and the waterways it flows into. The Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District is sponsoring the project. Keith Turner, the attorney for the district told the Clarion Ledger at a public hearing in July, that One Lake will prevent a devastating flood like the one in 1979. He said another flood like that would be a multi-billion dollar problem. But Mastrototaro thinks the real purpose of the project is to promote real estate development. She says the federal bill President Donald Trump is expected to sign will require more scrutiny of these types of projects.

"The legislation actually sets a much higher bar for the project to move forward in that the Secretary of the Army has to ensure that the project is technically feasible, economically justified and environmentally acceptable," said Mastrototaro.

Mastrototaro says the provision blocks One Lake from moving forward until those stipulations are met.