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NASD could use revenue lost to flooding

Mississippi school districts along the Mississippi River are losing thousands of dollars in 16th section land revenues each year due to flooding caused in part by practices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Adams County is among those counties, and the State of Mississippi is doing something about it.

Last year, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman filed a federal lawsuit seeking $25 million on behalf of the affected school districts, including the Natchez-Adams County School District, which has 5,540 acres of 16th section lands affected by the flooding, the most of any of the affected school districts.

Sixteenth Section land is select property in each county set aside when the state was formed for the benefit of public schools and across the state, about 640,000 acres of 16th Section land are held in trust for 101 school districts.

The districts lease those lands for various reasons, most notably in the affected areas along the Mississippi River, for hunting and fishing camps.

The allegations in the complaint, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, stem from artificial flooding caused by the Old River Control Structure, a water control project under the purview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Launched in the early 1950s, the project sought to change the natural course of water flowing from the Mississippi River to the Atchafalaya River by diverting more water down the Mississippi River. The goal was to prevent damage to cities in Louisiana, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The flood controls have led to silt deposits on the river bed that lead to more flooding, the lawsuit states.

A judge ruled last week the case has merit to continue after the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case. We applaud the decision and await a fair trial.

We would like to see the Natchez-Adams School District get reimbursed for the lost revenue over these years.

Our district could certainly use the money.

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