JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi has more than 640,000 acres of 16th section land. That’s land in each county that generates income for the local school districts. But Claiborne County, Wilkinson County and Natchez-Adams School Districts are struggling to generate money because of flooding and silt build-up.
“Actions taken by the corps of engineers 75 years ago now reflecting in damages that have occurred herein the last couple of years and appear to be in a position that it will not be remedied so long as the river is channeled and not allowed to take an alternative course,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.
The Old River Control Structure was designed to change the flow of the Mississippi River. It’s located just over the river in Louisiana near the far southwestern corner of Mississippi. It divides the flow of the Mississippi, with 70 percent staying in the river and 30 percent going to the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana.
But the unintended consequence has been the flooding and issues in Mississippi.
“We have 8,000 acres in these three school districts," noted Hosemann. "They basically have been taken by the flood waters of the Mississippi River on a continual basis. We can’t harvest the timber. We can’t get timber companies in there. We can’t get the revenue. And even if we were, we’d end up with a willow patch.”
That’s why the state is suing the federal government. The suit essentially states that if the flooding is going to continue, the feds need to pay for the damages.
“The fact that this exists at all... as long as it exists there today... we believe Mississippi’s going to go underwater,” noted Hosemann.
The state’s seeking at least $25 million dollars in damages.
Natchez-Adams School District replied to our request for comment with the following statement.