Roeland Park enters into JoCo watershed organization, one week after Merriam

The watershed approach is part of Johnson County’s new strategy to tackle flooding issues. Turkey Creek, pictured above, affects cities in watershed area 1, including Roeland Park, Merriam and Mission.

The Roeland Park city council on Monday approved a watershed agreement with Johnson County as part of the county’s new stormwater management program.

Working together is the county’s approach with the updated program: watershed organizations are created across city boundaries to allow for collaboration on projects that may impact more than one city. Roeland Park and 11 other cities, including Merriam and Mission, are part of watershed area 1, which is impacted by Turkey Creek and Brush Creek.

“The city is not obligated [to enter the agreement], it doesn’t cost the city anything out of pocket,” Public Works Director Donnie Scharff said. “It does allow these cities to work with neighboring cities on projects.”

Councilmember Jan Faidley noted that this item had not been discussed during a council workshop session, but said she was OK with the agreement because it makes sense to collaborate with neighboring cities. Councilmember Jennifer Hill said she recalled the council discussing entering the agreement, though she said it might not have been formally in a workshop.

City Administrator Keith Moody said stormwater project funding through the county’s Stormwater Management Advisory Council could be jeopardized if the city chose not to participate in the watershed area. In addition to potential SMAC funding, Moody said the watershed agreement creates an opportunity to help fix issues in one city that may be caused or contributed to by surrounding cities.

“You can work together in this drainage basin to fix a problem that might not be occurring in Roeland Park, but may be occurring downstream,” Moody said.

The agreement does not prohibit Roeland Park from completing local projects on its own, and it does not require the city to ask for permission to complete those projects. Additionally, if a project meets a specific criteria, there is a chance it could be 100% covered by the county. Otherwise, the city and the county would split the cost and each fund 50% of the project.

City council unanimously approved the agreement. Councilmember Trisha Brauer was absent. Roeland Park’s approval comes just one week after the Merriam city council unanimously entered into the watershed agreement, following a presentation from county public works staff member Lee Kellenberger. The watershed agreement goes into effect Jan 1., and will stay in effect for 10 years. Cities do have the option to opt out of the program at any time, Scharff said.