Much of the outer rim of Kansas City including the Central Industrial District, more commonly known as the Historic West Bottoms, is located in the Kansas and Missouri river flood plains. Given the area’s proximity to the rivers, KC Water needed resilient and innovative solutions that reduced the amount of stormwater entering the city’s sewer system and the volume of sewer overflows resulting in basement backups in the area.

To solve this complex issue, the design team separated the storm system from the sanitary sewer system and implemented multiple green infrastructure elements, including bioretention basins, gravel infiltration basins, sewer separation, private downspout connection, a permeable paver system and a dry-well infiltration system. Instead of conveying stormwater runoff away from the site through a system of underground pipes — green infrastructure uses natural solutions to collect, treat and infiltrate runoff on-site where it can percolate into the ground naturally and achieve a higher level of overflow control downstream.

Through well-planned design and execution, the sustainable design nurtures a new lush green space including 338 trees, 1,104 shrubs, 316 grasses and 7,063 forbs (wildflowers). All of which can be enjoyed through the interactive boardwalk system that invites the public to observe the native plants and the nature-based stormwater system.

Overall, the project provided the West Bottoms with a successful green infrastructure solution for reducing sewer overflows and common urban drainage issues that had plagued the historic area for years, while also adding economic, social and aesthetic enhancements to the community.

Location: Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS

Client: KC Water

Read more: Cultivating Green Infrastructure, Designer article