State AG ready to take action on spillway impact

The state’s top legal officer is lending his voice to the growing concerns about the historic second opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway.
Updated: Jun. 13, 2019 at 7:17 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) -The state’s top legal officer is lending his voice to the growing concerns about the historic second opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. Jim Hood was on the Gulf Coast Thursday talking about the impact of the opening.

June 13 marks 77 days that the spillway has been open just this year alone. Trillions of gallons of fresh water have poured into the Mississippi Sound during that time. The environmental damage is real and needs to be paid for, according to Hood.

He outlined his concerns while speaking to the Biloxi Businessmen’s Club. He’s going to seek money from the federal government for the damage done so far.

“We want to make them be prepared to pay reparations for the damages that this fresh water is causing in our Mississippi Sound for the dolphin deaths, the impacts on tourism and our seafood industry," Hood said.

When it comes to seafood, the shrimp season still hasn’t opened because of freshwater intrusion. That frustrates shrimper Bobby Wilson.

“It is bad for Mississippi, especially for people that have to make a living here. You can’t do it. I mean with the oysters, the crabs, everything, it’s bad," he said.

Fishing is bad too. That’s the word from Mark Smith as he was getting ready to cast a line.

“There is dead fish floating in the water, and like I say, the fishing is not good. I’m worried the local people that continue to use their boats into the water and fish, because they’re also telling me that the fishing has dropped drastically," Smith said.

The attorney general questioned why the other Mississippi River spillway in Louisiana, the Morganza, hasn’t been opened yet by the Army Corps of Engineers.

“I think they just made a decision they’re going to dump it on the Mississippi side first. They have regulations that say certain levels have to be reached before they open it, but we want to make them go back and look at those," Hood said.

He’s also pleased that local elected officials are now speaking with one voice, trying to mitigate the damage from the spillway opening.

“I think we’re going to set partisanship aside, thank goodness, and we get a lot more done when we don’t worry about that and we work together, and I’m confident we’ll be able to do that going forward on this event," he said.

Now Hood stresses that he doesn’t want to take legal action against the Army Corps of Engineers. He would rather work out an agreement that all sides can live with. To that end, he’s scheduled a meeting with Corps officials on June 24.

As far as environmental damages are concerned, here is even more proof. As of Thursday, 129 dolphins have washed up dead, as well as 154 sea turtles. Those are the highest numbers in years.

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