In September 1977, 16 inches of rain drove Brush Creek over its banks, killing 25 people and causing nearly $100 million in property damage. The flood problem in Kansas City, Missouri could no longer be ignored. Kansas City asked for help to widen and deepen the channel and in 1986, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers got approval from Congress to do a flood control project that went from Roanoke Parkway to Tracy Avenue just east of Troost Avenue.
The Brush Creek Coordinating Committee was formed to plan and oversee the implementation of what has become the initial phase of the Brush Creek Flood Control and Beautification Project. The committee was primarily representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, several city agencies and significant property owners along this portion of Brush Creek. Work began in 1991 and was completed on time and within budget in 1996 for $58.2 million.
In October 1998, another devastating flood killed eight people along Brush Creek, seven of them washed to their deaths off the Prospect Bridge. Kansas City’s collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue the Brush Creek Flood Control and Beautification Project resumed, and plans were made to take the project to the Blue River.
In 2002, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers received authorization to proceed with a study of the entire Brush Creek Basin or watershed. The examination would be multi-purpose, allowing for comprehensive planning for flood damage reduction, ecosystem restoration, water quality and flood warning in the entire 29-square mile watershed. Congress began funding the study in 2004 with the governments of Johnson County, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri matched the federal allocations, making the Corps, Kansas City and Johnson County the study’s sponsors.
By the time the Brush Creek Basin Study was initiated in October 2004, the composition of the Brush Creek Coordinating Committee had started to change. In addition to involving Johnson County and representatives of Kansas agencies, more federal agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey, grass-roots community interests such as not-for-profits and neighborhood leaders have come to the table.
Today, the Brush Creek Coordinating Committee is working closely with the project sponsors in developing and implementing an integrated watershed management plan. This comprehensive plan will identify opportunities for flood damage reduction, ecosystem restoration, flood warning protection, and water quality improvements in the basin. This cooperation provides opportunities for stakeholders to improved safety, water quality and increase recreational and economic development opportunities along Brush Creek.
To facilitate public involvement and wide-spread community input into the development of the Brush Creek Basin Study and the Watershed Management Plan, the Brush Creek Coordinating Committee conducted tours of Brush Creek for the public on Saturday, October 9, 2010. These 90 minute tours provided insight into the historic, social, legal and scientific background of the waterway’s development and impact of decisions made about the creek by policy makers.
The Brush Creek tours were followed by two public forums held in November 2010 and April 2011. Outcomes of those workshops are provided under the Community/Workshops link on this website.
The alternatives are being examined for their impact on flood risk management, environmental enhancement and optimization of land use. A final design for the reach is anticipated in early 2012.
Also in 2012, the Brush Creek Coordinating Committee will be inviting the community to participate in planning for the Bruce R. Watkins Reach (Woodland to Tracy in Kansas City, Missouri).