Controversy Over Levee In Illinois

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ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLR) - It's been five years since the federal emergency management agency (FEMA) required Illinois levees be upgraded in Monroe, Madison, and St. Clair counties. However at this point, a plan has not been approved. James Pennekamp, president of the flood prevention district council is far from pleased. “It is very frustrating at this point for everyone involved. This has always been about time and money. We have generated the money. We have generated the plan and now it's a matter of implementation. How long will I take us to get to where we need to be to protect the people of southwestern Illinois?"

FEMA made the decision to require upgrades to the levees after Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans causing major flooding and claiming lives.  Rich Conner, President of the Leadership Council says they have a viable proposal, but the Army Corps of Engineers hasn't signed off on it because of technical specifications. "We have hit some conflicts in the designs, some of the design features," said Conner.

Colonel Christopher Hall with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says, “Everyone involved meets regularly, but a final plan has not been presented to the corps.”It's our job to ensure those levees are safe for the long haul and that we're not introducing any more risk to the systems and to the public," said Hall.

The Mayor of Madison, John Hamm III says by not moving forward with the project is hurting the economy in his town. "You got to have economic development..jobs goes along with that. It's very important." said Hamm.

There hasn't been a major disaster in the metro area since the flood of 1993. The Executive Director of America's Central Port, Dennis Wilmsmeyer says they've been working on the project long enough. "We just need to get his done. We've been talking about it now for five years." said Wilmsmeyer.