US: Mississippi sues federal government over river flooding - PressFrom - US
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USMississippi sues federal government over river flooding

06:36  12 february  2019
06:36  12 february  2019 Source:   msn.com

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The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States, with 27,000 square miles (70,000 km2) inundated up to a depth of 30 feet (9 m)

The Mississippi River floods in April and May 2011 were among the largest and most damaging recorded along the U.S. waterway in the past century

Mississippi sues federal government over river flooding© The Associated Press FILE - This Aug. 2, 2018, file photo shows the Old River Control Structure, a floodgate system which regulates the flow of water leaving the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya River, in Vidalia, La. The state of Mississippi is suing the federal government for at least $25 million, claiming a federal dam complex in Louisiana that keeps the Mississippi River from changing course is harming state land. The suit was filed Monday in the Court of Federal Claims by Mississippi officials on behalf of three school districts. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

JACKSON, Miss. — The state of Mississippi on Monday sued the federal government, claiming a dam complex in Louisiana that keeps the Mississippi River from changing course is harming state land.

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The Mississippi River is the largest river of the United States and the chief river of the second-largest drainage system on the North American continent, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system.

The suit seeks at least $25 million in damages and touches on one of the most sensitive engineering questions in the nation — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decades-long effort to keep the Mississippi in its current channel flowing past Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Without what's known as the Old River Control Structure, the Mississippi River would likely shift course to Atchafalaya River in Louisiana, which offers a shorter, steeper route to the Gulf of Mexico. Such a shift would cut off the current source of fresh water for drinking in New Orleans and for industrial use at dozens of chemical plants in south Louisiana. It would also create major obstacles along a key shipping route.

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The Government of Mississippi is the government of the U.S. state of Mississippi . Power in Mississippi 's government is distributed by the state's Constitution between the executive and legislative branches. The state's current Governor is Phil Bryant.

+ Mississippi River Floods of 1927. Dates: April and May 1927 Deaths: 246 flood -related deaths in several states Impacts: Over 700,000 Out of this catastrophic flood grew the Flood Control of 1928, which gave the federal government authority over the containment of the Mississippi River .

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said his state isn't challenging the decision to try to lock the river's current flow in place. But he said the state of Mississippi should get paid for increased flooding caused by siltation. The river carries sediment that is dropping out of the current and piling up on the riverbed, constricting its flow and causing water upstream to rise higher, especially during a flood.

The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Mississippi officials say nearly 8,000 acres (3,237 hectares) in public land is being degraded by increased flooding. That land, set aside for the benefit of public schools, is normally used to grow timber. Hosemann, though, said trees are being damaged and that once this generation of trees is cut, commercially valuable species probably won't regrow. That means less money for the Wilkinson County, Natchez-Adams, and Claiborne County school districts. The lawsuit asserts the federal government is taking the land without compensation and should pay for it.

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The Mississippi River System, also referred to as the Western Rivers , is a mostly riverine network of the United States which includes the Mississippi River and connecting waterways.

The flooding is prompting more than 200 farmers and landowners from South Dakota to Missouri to file a federal lawsuit this month. "The basis of our claim is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who's in charge of managing the Missouri River , is they made a decision to take our clients' land, either

"This 8,000 acres that is owned by the state of Mississippi, we believe it is being turned into a permanent reservoir," Hosemann told reporters Monday.

He said only 75 days of flooding were recorded in the area from 1950 to 1972, while more than 1,000 were recorded from 1973 to 2016.

The Republican, who is running for lieutenant governor this year, said he appealed to the Mississippi River Commission 2016 for relief. The commission oversees the levees and dams that are meant to prevent flooding and enhance navigation along the river.

Private property owners in southwest Mississippi have also complained about increased flooding in recent years, and Hosemann acknowledged that if the state's lawsuit is successful, private landowners would likely follow suit.

Despite the assertions in the lawsuit, Hosemann said the state has not yet conducted studies of the river's water flow meant to scientifically prove that siltation from Old River is to blame for increased flooding. Hosemann said such studies would be conducted over the next two years at a cost of $50,000.

There could be other factors driving flooding as well. Some experts say increased upstream development is sending more water downstream. And in two of the last three years, the lower Mississippi has seen unusual wintertime floods sparked by heavy rains upstream that could be related to climate change. Historically, the Mississippi's peak flood has been in the spring.

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Follow Jeff Amy at http://twitter.com/jeffamy .

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