Wichita Looks To Johnson County For Flood Water Prevention Ideas

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Locals interested in flood water prevention and water quality visited Johnson County stormwater management projects to bring back ideas to South Central Kansas.

"Our biggest problems are some of the tributaries that still come out of the banks and we've allowed development to occur over the last 30 years and didn't put enough stormwater detention," said Jeff Longwell, Wichita Vice Mayor.

About 50 business owners, engineers, and elected officials traveled by bus to the Kansas City metro area to network with other community members, tour several stormwater projects, and learn about how water runoff affects all communities.

"Water knows no boundaries; it simply flows down hill. We have to all work together because we're all down hill from somebody," said Hoyt Hillman, GreenWay Alliance organizer.

The Johnson County Stormwater Management Program started after the 1988 Kansas Legislature authorized counties to adopt a 1/10th of a cent sales tax for the purpose of funding stormwater projects. Johnson County was the only county to implement the tax.

"It makes sense to just protect those streamways and rivers and keep them natural looking but also at the same time you're increasing property value," Aaron Bartlett, speaker and transportation planner in Kansas City.

On the bus ride back, the group expressed interest in continuing regional water management talks.

"We don't have to reinvent anything. Sometimes we can just take ideas and retool them slightly to fit our community," said Longwell.

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