Two councilmembers who represent constituents along Indian Creek say Kansas City needs a regional approach to flood control.
Scott Taylor and Kevin McManus, both of whom live in south Kansas City, Missouri, held a news conference Tuesday urging city leaders to work with other municipalities to keep Indian Creek from flooding again, as it has twice this summer. They plan to introduce a resolution at Thursday’s city council meeting.
“The land is what it is,” says Kansas City Water Services Director Terry Leeds, who was at the news conference. “Most of that water that comes through Indian Creek comes through Johnson County. So what happens in Johnson County does impact Kansas City.”
Leeds says although parts of Kansas City have experienced significant flooding this summer, for him the high water mark is still the 1998 flood in which 11 people died on Brush Creek. Leeds says a good working relationship with Johnson County Stormwater has helped the city alleviate many of those problems, and he’s optimistic the same can be done for Indian Creek.
But Leeds says the city must also make sure developers are following best practices when it comes to stormwater runoff. In Houston, where Hurricane Harvey has wrought unprecedented flooding, there’s nowhere for all that water to go.
“When development occurs, the hard surfaces, impervious area – roofs, driveways, streets, parking lots, buildings – that water, none of it’s going to be absorbed into the ground,” Leeds says.
And so the water pools, creating dangerous situations that require dramatic water rescues, not unlike the scene that unfolded at Coach’s Bar & Grill last month.
Leeds says pushing water out of flood-prone areas isn’t optimal. It’s much better to let the ground absorb it where it falls.
Recently, the Water Department had its parking lot repaved with pervious concrete. That’s exactly the sort of green infrastructure Taylor and McManus want for south Kansas City.
Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.