Smith Wants U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers To Provide More Assistance With Region’s Levees
U.S. Representative Jason Smith is working to include language in the upcoming Water Resource bill that would authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to aid in maintaining and upgrading southeast Missouri’s water infrastructure.
Smith’s plan calls for bringing Missouri’s outdated water infrastructure into the 21st century through cost sharing agreements with the corps.
By the time the Mississippi River travels through southeast Missouri, it contains 90 percent of the water it will eventually dump into the Gulf of Mexico. Smith spoke about the increasing difficulty to protect the area from flooding because of aging infrastructure. He said that southeast Missouri cannot afford to wait until devastating flooding occurs before receiving help from the Army corps, insisting they must help now before it’s too late.
“Our levee and drainage districts work around the clock to meet the challenges of flooding head on, but aging infrastructure is putting the whole system at risk,” Smith said. “Just last year, southern Missouri experienced the longest high-water event on record, even longer than the Great Flood of 1927. This required pumps to run non-stop for months, costing one levee district over half a million dollars on fuel to keep its pumps going. That is simply not sustainable.
“That is why I’m calling for the Army corps to provide the technical and financial assistance our local partners need,” he added. “We cannot afford to wait until levees are breached — when lives are threatened, and taxpayers are put on the hook for millions in damages — before the corps offers their help.”
Smith raised his concerns with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and its subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. He is urging the committee to include his fix in the Water Resources Development Act. It’s a biennial bill that Congress uses to authorize activities by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whose civil works activities are focused on three primary purposes: improving navigation, reducing flood risk, and restoring aquatic ecosystems.
(Information in a release from U.S. Representative Jason Smith’s office.)