On a map printed in the Nov. 4, 1994, issue of Science magazine, the Pascagoula system in southeast Mississippi is the only patch of green this side of Alaska and the northern territories of Canada. Though it has dams in its extreme upper headwaters — such as Little Black Creek Water Park, Lake Bogue Homa and Okatibbee Lake — the Pascagoula remains the only major river system in the lower forty-eight states, that still runs free. Yet in 2009, American Rivers listed the Pascagoula River among the ten most endangered rivers in America, owing to the threat of new petroleum storage. According to the report, the U.S. Department of Energy initiated plans under the Bush administration, to pump fifty million gallons of water per day from the river, over the course of five years, to hollow out naturally-occurring salt domes, in order to create more storage capacity for oil.The Richton Salt Domes, located thirty miles northwest of the basin, would increase U.S. storage capacity by 160 million barrels. Approximately 330 miles of pipeline would have to be constructed to withdraw water from the Pascagoula, to pump the salty, polluted byproduct out to one of Mississippi's barrier islands, and distribute oil to and from the site. The plan would nearly double the amount of water currently taken from the Pascagoula River. The DOE estimates the project would cost approximately $4 billion dollars to complete. The Pascagoula River flows for 81 miles, emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. The river's basin stretches over 9,600 square miles of wilderness, where black bears, rob bees' nests, and swallow-tailed kites make their home. The uninterrupted flow of the river is important for migrating fish, such as the Alabama shad and the endangered Gulf sturgeon, while it's marshes provide a vital incubator for Gulf Coast shrimp. The DOE predicts 18 oil spills and 75 spills of salty, polluted water during the construction and initial fill of the hollowed domes, damaging rivers, streams, and wetlands in the basin. Pascagoula-Moss Point Port is the third most productive port in the Gulf of Mexico as measured by pounds of fish.
In this video, Ernest Herndon, a local newspaper reporter, and avid canoer of thirty years, steers us down backwaters of this beloved river, and introduces us to both the lore and persistent threats- to this little-known, sprawling, natural wonder of the South.
Articles by Ernest Herndon (Enterprise-Journal):
Order Ernest Herdon's book, "Paddling the Pacagoula"
Visit site of the co-author, Scott B. Williams
Mississippi Public Broadcasting
Documentary - "Singing River: Rhythms of Nature"
Producer/Editor: Alison Fast
Director of Photography: Chandler Griffin
Music: Andy Bullington; Stockmusic.net
Contact the filmmakers @ Blue Magnolia Films firstname.lastname@example.org