Hancock County

Hancock County takes ‘adamant opposition’ to Louisiana’s river diversion plans. Here’s why.

Hancock County supervisors expressed “adamant opposition” to Louisiana’s plans to add another Mississippi River diversion and asked the governor and the Coast’s congressional delegation in Washington to join their fight.

The Board of Supervisors met Monday at the courthouse and passed three resolutions:

To oppose Louisiana’s proposed Mid-Breton Basin diversion project and the issuance of a federal permit for the construction of the project, asking Gov. Phil Bryant to do the same.

To request the Coast delegation take take immediate action to repeal one law and defeat another that would allow the Mid-Breton project to go forward.

To authorize an agreement between the county and the nonprofit Gulf Coast Resource Coalition to work together. The agreement says the coastal projects proposed by Louisiana “could extremely and negatively impact Hancock County’s coastal resources, communities and economy.”

Board president Blaine LaFontaine said Louisiana’s master plan to create this new diversion project, “Will probably be the single-largest threat to the Gulf Coast and this economy — maybe in the next decade.”

The supervisors know what happened this year when the Bonnet Carré Spillway was opened for 123 days for flood control on the Mississippi River.

“This inundation has caused massive harm to Hancock County’s economy and fisheries, as well as dire effects on the marine mammal population in and around the coastal waters of Hancock County,” the resolution said.

The project proposed in Louisiana would have a much bigger impact on Mississippi, the supervisors’ resolutions say.

Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has filed Permit Application WQC 190227-01 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct the large-scale diversion project.

It proposes construction in Breton Sound at Plaquemines Parish, extending into the Mid-Breton Sound Basin. It would release 75,000 cubic feet per second of Mississippi River water, and could operate continuously throughout the year from January through July. This would release 9.74 trillion gallons of fresh water into the Breton Basin, the resolution says, which is about the same as this year’s record Bonnet Carré Spillway release.

“Living in Coastal Mississippi, especially in Hancock County, a lot of the time we are associated with being part of Louisiana,” said LaFontaine. “In some parts we’re even called a parish, Hancock County parish. But at the end of the day as an official, looking ahead at the next decade, we think of threats. Some of those threats are sometimes economic, some of the times they are hurricanes, but to me our single-most largest threat to the future of our coastal economy is probably the Mississippi River.”

Anything the county can do to advocate for dredging the river o to consider other solutions to eliminate diversion is probably better for the fisheries and Coastal economy, he said.

The supervisors also asked the governor to let federal agencies know that Mississippi “. . . exerts its territorial jurisdiction over certain waters that can and will be impacted by Louisiana’s proposed large-scale Mississippi River Diversion project.”

LaFontaine said he hopes other Coast counties will pass resolutions in support of the Gulf Coast Resource Coalition.

Related stories from Biloxi Sun Herald

Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.
Alyssa Newton is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a background in television, radio and print. She’s originally from Dothan, Alabama and has a journalism degree from the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Her passion lies in storytelling, news, sports and a strong espresso.