Coast leaders file spillway lawsuit

The City of Biloxi has joined other coast leaders in filing a federal lawsuit regarding future openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway.

The filing, announced today by Marlin Ladner, President of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors, is to compel the Mississippi River Commission to consult with the people of the Mississippi Coast before opening the Bonnet Carré Spillway again and to require the Corps of Engineers to seek alternatives to opening the Spillway.

Biloxi joins the Harrison and Hancock County Boards of Supervisors, the cities of D’Iberville and Waveland, the Mississippi Coast Fisheries United, and the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association in the filing.

“Our whole Coastal way of life is threatened by continued openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway,” said Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich. “We respectfully appeal to the Corps and the River Commission to create reasonable alternatives to opening the Bonnet Carré. We all need a win-win solution for Mississippi and Louisiana to avoid flooding without killing the Mississippi Sound.”

In the spring and summer of 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mississippi River Commission opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway element of the Mississippi River and Tributaries project, releasing a flood of polluted Mississippi River water through the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and into the Mississippi Sound, wreaking havoc on the natural resources, communities and businesses on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The economic damage to coastal fishing communities, local governments, and tourism- related businesses is still not fully known, but the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has estimated the financial impacts to fisheries alone as over $160,000,000.

In September 2019 the United States Department of Commerce granted Governor Phil Bryant’s petition for a fisheries disaster declaration. The long-term impacts on Mississippi’s coastal resources are not fully known but will likely cost hundreds of millions more.

Federal laws require that the Corps and Mississippi River Commission consider the impacts to coastal communities and natural resources in the coastal zone resulting from their actions. These laws also require that the Corps and Mississippi River Commission consider alternatives to help mitigate or remove those impacts where possible.

“The consequence of the Corps and Mississippi River Commission’s failure to comply with applicable law—including their failure to perform required and sensible analyses—is not just a violation of law, said Gerald Blessey, Manager of the Mississippi Sound Coalition, “it is a real and tragic missed opportunity, which has caused significant losses to Plaintiffs and Coast residents, visitors and citizens.”
See the Complaint

News & notes: Weekly report, council

The week that was: Last week, the Fire Department answered 141 calls for service, including 90 medical emergencies and four fires; the Police Department answered 1,564 calls for service, and the Community Development Department issued 64 building permits with a construction valuation of more than $1.5 million. To see the reports covering last week, click here.

City Council: The next scheduled meeting of the Biloxi City Council is Tuesday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m. at Biloxi City Hall. To see more about the city council, click here.