Reservoir projects could negatively impact coast seafood industry

Reservoir projects could negatively impact coast seafood industry

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Supporters of two reservoir projects in Mississippi and Louisiana see benefits like waterfront homes and increased boating and recreation opportunities. But, there are also concerns about a significant downside, downstream.

The upside of proposed new reservoirs built on the Pearl River, near Jackson, and in Washington Parish, Louisiana, include recreation along with residential and commercial construction. But here on the coast, the resulting reduction in freshwater flow into the Mississippi Sound could damage our seafood industry.

"Significant financial harm to the State of Mississippi and its citizens would result from any further reduction to natural, freshwater in flows to Mississippi's fragile, estuarine areas," said the DMR's Joe Jewell, as he read from a proposed resolution being considered by the Commission on Marine Resources.

That freshwater flow helps provide the perfect nursery for juvenile shrimp and oysters. Any additional interruption of that freshwater supply, is troubling to those who oversee our marine resources.

"The Louisiana marsh is opening up. We don't feel the freshwater is coming across the coast as it used to be now, because of the openings in the Louisiana marsh because of erosion. And this would just compound that and take more freshwater away," said Commissioner Ernie Zimmerman.

"Here on the coast, we have concerns about the limited flow of freshwater into the Mississippi Sound. When we have restriction of flow, it has negative impacts on our marine resources, in particular, the shellfish resources. Because they're limited in their ability to get out of the way," Jewell explained.

The two reservoir projects are in various stages of development. The one in Washington Parish Louisiana is farther along. In fact, the Army Corps of Engineers is already taking public comments on that project.

The CMR voted unanimously to approve a resolution opposing the permitting and construction of any project that would further reduce the freshwater flow.

The proposed reservoir near Jackson would be created by building a dam on a portion of the Pearl River. The project in Louisiana involves a smaller tributary that flows into the Pearl.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.