The City of Lenexa, Kansas, has created a stormwater management program that treats stormwater as a community asset rather than a problem. The City’s innovative program, “Rain to Recreation” has become a model for other communities throughout the country. It is an environmentally sound approach that balances flood control needs and federal regulatory requirements with citizens’ desire for recreational opportunities and preservation of the natural environment. The program developed an innovative and stable funding package which consists of a 1/8 cent sales tax, a stormwater utility fee, and a capital development charge.
In 1998, the City began developing the new stormwater management program. Several factors occurred during that year that highlighted the need for such a program. First, a major storm hit the Kansas City area, causing flooding and loss of life. Although Lenexa generally did not have major flooding issues, the city was not spared during this storm.
Second, development of previously untouched areas began, at an accelerated pace. And third, it became clear that the City, along with hundreds of other cities, would be subject to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II of the Clean Water Act.
The Watershed Management Plan provided direction in the form of policies, practices, and projects. In the early years of the Program, staff concentrated on incorporating watershed principles and practices into development planning and review and in providing guidance for the development community. The City adopted an Erosion and Sediment Control ordinance in 2001 to protect streams and waterways during the rapid development movement in western Lenexa. In 2002, Lenexa became the first city in the Kansas City Metropolitan area to adopt a Stream Setback Ordinance. This ordinance defines streams by an environmental condition rating and stream order to determine setback distances and introduces another innovative approach to environmental management, supporting quality of life issues.
The City also initiated and collaborated with the Kansas City Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the Mid America Regional Council (MARC) to develop regional standards related to water quality. As a result, two products were developed and adopted by APWA in November 2003. The first product was a revised APWA Section 5600 Storm Drainage Systems and Facilities Design Criteria with emphasis on open conveyance and stream protection strategies. The second was a Manual of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Stormwater Quality. The Lenexa City Council adopted both APWA products in April 2004, the first municipality in the metropolitan area to do so.
Lenexa BMPs and Stormwater Management