Friends of the Kaw and the Johnson County Stormwater Management Program have teamed up to help landowners and homebuilders reduce the amount of stormwater runoff entering the Kansas River by providing Best Management Practices for housing developments and agricultural producers, and online resources for reducing stormwater runoff.

The Problem

Johnson County is the fastest growing area in the entire Kansas River watershed.

This provides many challenges, not least of which is what to do with all the extra runoff that accompanies urban and suburban development. 

Effectively managing stormwater is important to all of us. Poorly managed runoff causes flash floods and accumulates in low lying areas (like your basement). Not only does localized flooding result in monetary damages, but it can be life threatening in some circumstances. On top of that, it carries pollutants into lakes and rivers used for municipal drinking water supplies. 

The Solution

To cope with this problem, the county instituted a 1/10th of a cent sales tax to fund the Johnson County Stormwater Management Program. This forward looking approach made Johnson County a leader in innovative management of stormwater, changing what is typically considered a problem into an asset with programs like the City of Lenexa's Rain to Recreation program.

Where does stormwater runoff go to?

Stormwater that enters storm drains on the streets and in the parking lots of Johnson County is collected into a storm sewer system, which eventually discharges into the Kansas River system (or the Missouri River System depending on where you live - see map below). 

How is stormwater regulated?

Water that flows out of pipes into the river and its tributaries is considered a point source  and is regulated under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Permits are issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) under authority delegated to it by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate water quality of stormwater discharges. Cities in Johnson County are required by the Stormwater Management Plan to obtain NPDES permits and regulate the amount of runoff (water quantity) and the amount of pollutants in runoff (water quality) that is discharged from their storm sewers into the Kansas River and its tributaries. These permits specify things like how much sediment, nutrients from fertilizers, bacteria, pesticides, and other pollutants can be in the water when it is finally discharged to the river.

What can you do to reduce stormwater runoff?

All of this means that residents in Johnson County may find themselves working with their municipal stormwater offices to reduce runoff from homes and gardens, housing developments managed by home owners associations, commercial developments and agricultural lands. Luckily there is a lot of help available to JoCo residents to assist them throughout the process, and we provide resources in the following sections to help you understand where to go and what to do to get the help you need.