Area public works officials wrestle with whether to adopt new stormwater standards as flooding threats persist

Emergency responders were on the scene after drivers got stuck on a flooded Mission Road near Village Presbyterian Church in August 2016. Photo credit Don Austin.

Another round of heavy rains forecast for this week has again prompted warnings about potential flooding in the area, highlighting a persistent issue that has affected northeast Johnson County in recent years. But as cities and the county look at mitigating the dangers of damaging floods, questions linger about what standards engineers should use to measure those threats.

Cars stranded night under Shawnee Mission Parkway at Roe Avenue during a flash flood in 2016.

Johnson County taxpayers may fund millions of dollars in stormwater management projects in coming years after municipalities like Prairie Village, Fairway and Leawood faced intense flooding in 2017 that caused serious damage. But in some cases, the project plans are using stormwater standards established with data from more than 40 years ago — even though new data from 2014 shows higher rainfall depths for rarer, longer-lasting storms.