Magazine article International Wildlife

Report Highlights Nation's Most Damaging, Wasteful Water Projects

Magazine article International Wildlife

Report Highlights Nation's Most Damaging, Wasteful Water Projects

Article excerpt

In Arkansas, the federal government plans to spend $1 billion on the first of four irrigation projects to divert water from the White River- -and also from two national wildlife refuges that serve as the most popular wintering grounds for mallard ducks in North America. The program is opposed even by many of the rice farmers it is intended to benefit because they don't want to pay local water taxes to help fund it.

In Mississippi, federal taxpayers are slated to foot the entire $300 million bill for dredging the Big Sunflower River and building the Yazoo Backwater Pumping Station--predicted to be the world's largest pump--to reduce water levels on frequently flooded agricultural lands in the Mississippi Delta. These are generally large farms whose owners already receive substantial federal subsidies. The National Wildlife Federation has sued in federal court to stop the Big Sunflower Project, which would destroy habitat for waterfowl, fish and a massive, 1,000- year-old mussel colony and would release toxic chemicals trapped in river sediments.

These are two of the very worst water projects in the nation, according to Corps Watch, a new report by NWF and Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonprofit group that monitors how tax dollars are spent. The report highlights what the two groups believe to be the 25 most wasteful and damaging ventures currently being planned or built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

All of the featured projects pose significant environmental risks, such as destroying wetlands, jeopardizing endangered or threatened species, exposing people and wildlife to hazardous chemicals or harming protected public lands. …

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