Water vital to county
by Paisley Boston
Jul 09, 2014 | 741 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Yazoo Mississippi Delta Joint Water Management District is seeking a five percent increase in millage from Bolivar County.

"We are trying to come up with new ways to replace our ground water usage. When we look at the two tools that we try to use to help balance our water supply, there is also a need for funding. We are asking for an additional five percent increase in our millage with is only $10,000," said Dr. Dean Pennington, executive director of YMD.

"This will help support us in the process of developing an alternative water supply and it can be used for conservation."

YMD has focuses on balancing water supplies with water demand and improving and protecting surface water.

According to YMD, approximately 80 percent of all water use in Mississippi is by agriculture in the Delta.

"Water is the basis for most of the business in Bolivar County," Pennington reminded the board. "Having an adequate water supply supports the economy and will be a definitive tool in future expansion efforts."

There are about 14,750 groundwater use permits for the alluvial aquifer and 2,250 surface

water use permits by agriculture in the Delta.

" "The truth is that Bolivar, Washington, Tunica and Leflore counties, all prominent counties in the Delta region, use more water annually than any other counties in the state," said Pennington.

"Agriculture is very important to the economy of the Delta and water is an essential component of agriculture. We have an irrigation system around the Delta that yields a large amount of economic benefit. The water used for agriculture and is not the same water that is used for drinking they do not come from the same ground water source," he added.

YMD works collects and organize information to provide better insight into water use, existing water quality, and water quality standards and how conservation practices reduce agricultural water use and improve runoff water quality.

The company uses the information included in water use applications and permits to support water conservation programs and to assist in the planning and design of water construction projects.

"We are so pleased to have a local entity that expresses interest in what we try to do for the Delta. We try to adhere to the needs and wants of our constituents at the local level – that is what we are here for," said Pennington.

"In the past, we have been fortunate enough to meet with supervisors that realized how important we are to the growth of our region. The county has supported us for a number of years and we appreciate all of the help that we have gotten," he added.

Two other important water resource concerns that will continue to be watched by YMD are groundwater quality and the availability the region’s drinking and industrial water supplies.

"We work to provide solutions to our region's ground water and surface water supply issues. We feel that there needs to be some kind of local entity and not a state entity that focuses on our region because individuals on the national level are not aware of some of the problems that we experience with our water supply," said Pennington.

According to Pennington, about three million acres of land in Mississippi is farmed, and of that, two million acres is irrigated.

Some of the solutions to combat the decline of groundwater include conservations efforts like using four irrigations instead of five, or by running a well 25 hours instead of 30 hours to complete irrigation.

If Mississippi reduces its water usage by 15 percent, then it will be closer to having a sustainable water supply.

“Through conservation practices, 15 percent is not unrealistic. It’s not easy but it’s doable,” said Pennington.

Supervisor Donny Whitten said he is grateful to have such a dedicated team that works to provide and maintain the county's water supply.

"We really appreciate all of the work that you do and have for our county and the region. Water is a vital component to the entire world and if there is anything that we can help you with just let us know," said Whitten.

After much deliberation, members of the board decided to table the matter for more discussion.