ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — The Rapides Parish Police Jury has authorized taking bids on one of what should be many projects to improve levees on the Red River.

The Town Talk reports Bayou Bouef Diversion Canal Improvements is an approximately $700,000 project designed to remove silt from the canal and allow for more water to be carried out of the river and taken south, where it can be used for irrigation purposes.

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency de-accredited levees on the river, homeowners and businesses were faced with having to purchase costly federal flood insurance.

FEMA has since backed off, but the jury still is moving ahead with repair work.

President Oliver Overton said Monday the jury has earmarked more than $16 million in federal disaster relief funds for the projects.