MOSS POINT -- The comment period ends at the close of business Wednesday for a project that would dam a tributary to the Pascagoula River to form twin lakes near the Coast.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking comments from anyone interested via email until that time at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Corps then will evaluate and decide what is needed and if the project is allowed to go forward.
The Gulf Restoration Network said, at the very least, the Corps needs to hold a thorough two-year environmental assessment of the project. The group put that statement in a letter endorsed by eight businesses and groups interested in preserving the Pascagoula River, the largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states.
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"You can tell Mr. Moxey these lakes are unnecessary," Andrew Whitehurst said at a press conference along the marshes of the lower Pascagoula on Wednesday morning. "There are other ways to provide water."
Whitehurst, the Network's water program director, said the Lake George project is combining a recreational lake idea that George County has had for years with a way to help industry during times of drought, "but industry has never called for help."
It a permanent solution to a temporary issue, he said.
Pat Harrison Waterway District, a small state agency that manages water parks, and Jackson and George county leaders are sponsors for the project that would create 3,000 acres of lake by damming the Big and Little Cedar creeks about two miles from the main trunk of the Pascagoula.
Joining the opposition are Mississippi Audubon, Coastal Rivers, Eco Tours of South Mississippi, Gulf Islands Conservancy, Historic Ocean Springs Saltwater Fly Fishing Club, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain and both the local and state chapters of the Sierra Club.
The proposal has a lengthy environmental study, turned in to the Corps and paid for out of $3 million in bond money the state is allowing for the project study.
"The environmental assessment was an argument for the lakes," Whitehurst said. "That's the most disturbing thing. I've paid for the biased studies, as a taxpayer."
Building the project is estimated to cost $80 million and proponents are eyeing BP oil spill restoration money.
What the studies don't properly evaluate is how well the lakes would hold water and how much of the water would be lost to surface evaporation and seeping into the ground.
But Whitehurst said the most disturbing thing about it is unnecessarily flooding 1,100 acres of forest habitat and 41 miles of coastal streams.