2019 was a historic year for the Bonnet Carre Spillway as it remained open for a record 118 days. The extended opening proved to have adverse effects on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Now, some officials on the Coast are taking action.
IMMS President Dr. Moby Solangi said, “It is a catastrophic event that has happened. We never thought there would be something worse than the BP oil spill, but this is it.”
After what has been a devastating year for the Mississippi Sound, action is now being taken. South Mississippi cities, counties, and organizations have all filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Mississippi River Commission.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Gulfport by the cities of Biloxi, D’Iberville, Waveland, Harrison and Hancock Counties, the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, and Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United. Attorney Robert Wiygul said, “This lawsuit is about the common sense proposition that the Corps of Engineers needs to look at alternative ways of operating the Bonnet Carre Spillway so it’s not going to hurt us as bad. It’s a real common sense proposition and it’s what federal law requires.”
The lawsuit is not asking for monetary damages, but for a temporary injunction to be placed requiring the corps to consult with Coast governments regarding future openings of the spillway.
They’re also asking the corps to study the impact the spillway has on Coastal Mississippi, all in the hope of preventing future tragedies. Dr. Solangi said, “We have a catastrophic loss of our fisheries. Oysters are gone. We have hundreds of millions of dollars of damage in tourism, natural resources, and the image. So, if this continues and nothing is done, the Mississippi Sound and the coastal communities are going to suffer.”