The Feb. 11 news article “Missouri levee plan up for another fight” did a commendable job outlining the ecological and economic ramifications of the proposed St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway project. The most important aspect of the floodway, however, is that it provides an indispensable “flood protection safety net” that has saved the city of Cairo, Ill., and other Mississippi River communities from disastrous flooding.

The New Madrid Floodway captures excess water when the Mississippi overflows, relieving pressure on levees downstream.This vital function has saved the people of Cairo and elsewhere as recently as 2011.

The plan to close the gap in the levee system and to install two pumping stations to control flooding effectively places the economic interests of a few large landowners above the collective safety of the people of Cairo and other downstream communities. This project is an irresponsible endangerment of human life. The Obama administration needs to put an end to this project now.

Tyrone Coleman, Cairo, Ill.

The writer is the mayor of Cairo.