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OPPOSE the One Lake Project!

Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District, which is sponsoring the One Lake project, is taking public comments, due September 6th, on this draft EIS. Please submit written comments expressing your concerns about the environmental damage that the One Lake project would cause. Comments should specifically address the many shortcomings of the draft EIS.

SEND COMMENTS TO:
Email: rankinhinds@gmail.com
Or mail: Rankin Hinds Pearl River Flood and Drainage Control District, P.O. Box 320790, Flowood, MS 39232.

Points to Consider When Commenting on the draft EIS:
—Alternative C would cause widespread and far-reaching environmental damage to the project area and the downstream Pearl River watershed.

—Flood control alternatives should be given serious consideration that fall short of actually damming the river.

—The draft EIS does not account for potential downstream project impacts in Mississippi and Louisiana because the study area for the draft EIS ends immediately south of the project site. The project area’s effects must be revised to consider the entire downstream watershed, including the surrounding floodplains and out into Mississippi sound.

—The draft EIS largely dismisses downstream concerns about reduced flow and water quality. However, an engineering study conducted by St. Tammany Parish in 2013, found that the reduced flow created by the Ross Barnett Reservoir was causing environmental problems for the West Pearl River. Environmental concerns included: shoaling, water quality degradation, eutrophication, saltwater intrusion into the river, and loss of habitat for important fisheries. These problems will only be exacerbated by the One Lake project because the associated dam will further reduce flow to the West Pearl River.

—Also related to reduced flow, alternative C would undermine Louisiana's ability to achieve a sustainable coast and protect St. Tammany and Washington Parish residents from storm surges. The dam would reduce the amount of freshwater flow significantly alter downstream hydrology all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

— Also related to reduced flow, the One Lake project will create serious water quality problems downstream that the draft EIS has not acknowledged. According to St. Tammany Parish engineer, Dr. deEtte Smythe’s estimates, the new dam will dramatically increase the number of days when fresh water flow is too low to permit sewage plants and industries (e.g., International Paper at Bogalusa) to safely and legally discharge their effluent.

—The draft EIS lacks key elements such as: a Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act Report, an Independent External Peer Review Report, or a Biological Opinion. Moreover, official public notice of the Draft EIS has not appeared in the Federal Register.

—The draft EIS understates the importance of the area to be impacted by the One Lake project to the federally threatened Gulf Sturgeon. A dam of this size and magnitude would serve as a physical barrier to the natural migration of this species to and from spawning areas.

—The draft EIS does not adequately address the many negative effects that the One Lake Project will have on the endemic, federally threatened, Ringed Map Turtle (Ringed Sawback). The One Lake Project will degrade and destroy large, flowing river habitats that this species depends on: the proposed dam, dredging and channelizing the river, de-snagging, and excess river sedimentation are all going to create problems for this species. For example, the project will destroy sandbars that turtles require for nesting and remove driftwood and dead limbs that turtles need for basking.

—The draft EIS is not based on the most current information regarding the Ringed Sawback population in the Jackson area of the Pearl River. Dr. William Selman estimates that the total Ringed Sawback population within the One Lake Project area is approximately 1,200 – 2,500 individuals. The project area is important to the viability of this federally threatened species, and the draft EIS does not acknowledge this fact.

—The draft EIS falsely states that the impacts to the Ringed Sawback population will be “minor in intensity and long-term in duration.” The Ringed Sawback requires flowing river habitats. The stagnant One Lake created by the dam will become highly degraded habitat for these riverine turtles, and they will disappear over time.

Photo by Terri Skelton

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