PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Pascagoula city leaders are expressing opposition to a project to put a dam and a spillway near the Pascagoula River, creating twin lakes in George County. Friday, Pascagoula's city council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the project, citing concerns with water salinity. And there's growing concern over the possibility of losing the Pascagoula River's designation as the largest free-flowing river in the country.
Like many Jackson County residents, Pascagoula City Councilman Burt Hill has quite a connection to the Pascagoula River.
"I've used the river in my lifetime more than most. I've fished, hunted, boated, and skied on it," Hill said.
His fondness for the river and reluctance to change the way it flows is echoed by others in and around his city. The council is now sending their strong opposition to this project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Pascagoula City Manager Joe Huffman said, "Among our concerns is the salinity of the river, by holding back water, it could affect Pascagoula and other nearby areas downstream."
Huffman said after he and Pascagoula Councilman Scott Tipton heard about exactly what the project would entail, they brought the information to others on the council. From there, they decided to hold a special meeting, so they could pass a resolution to get their comments in opposition to the project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before the February 6 deadline.
"There are some effluence pipes discharging upstream from where the dam is proposed, gathering nutrients. That could be a problem with the dam, the level of nutrients collected downstream at a more concentrated level," Huffman said.
Huffman and Hill both agree that after reviewing findings from the Audubon Society, they found several issues they believe could negatively affect the Pascagoula River near the city if the project passes. The city submitted its resolution of opposition to the Corps Friday afternoon.
George County leaders say creating the twin lakes would provide some drought resiliency when the flow of the Pascagoula River gets too low, but would also provide some recreational use.