US Rep. Smith asks Obama to preserve levee plan

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Missouri Congressman Jason Smith is pushing for the completion of a Missouri Bootheel region levee amid concerns that the project would increase the risk of flooding in predominantly black Illinois communities.

The Southeast Missourian (http://bit.ly/13noqsP ) reports that the Salem Republican sent a letter to President Barack Obama last week advocating for the New Madrid Floodway. The $165 million project would close a gap in a network of levees to protect rich Missouri agricultural land from frequent flooding from the Mississippi River.

Smith’s letter was sent one day after nearly 100 environmental groups renewed their longstanding concern that the project would threaten wetlands. In a separate letter to the president, community leaders said the levee would cause greater flooding concerns in Cairo, Illinois, and other predominantly black communities in the region.