Kansas City Celebrates Major Milestone with Flood Pump Station Upgrade

Published on October 12, 2023

Photograph of people cutting a ribbon in celebration of a pump station completion in Kansas City, Kansas

Kansas City recently celebrated a pivotal achievement in community safety and disaster preparedness with the completion of significant pump station improvements, a crucial component of the KC Levees project. This upgrade, vital for protecting 30,000 people and $10 billion in infrastructure, particularly in key areas like Argentine, Armourdale, and the Central Industrial District, brought modern enhancements to our almost century-old flood defenses.

Participants at the event included Kansas Representative Sharice Davids' Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Deputy Assistant Secretary Stacey Brown, USACE Director of Programs Ms. Francis Coffey, USACE Commander COL Travis Rayfield, and Unified Government (UG) District 3 Commissioner Christian Ramirez. They highlighted the successful collaboration and strategic decision-making that enabled the improvements.

Despite being part of the wider KC Levees project, a standout point of these pump station improvements was the full financial backing from the federal government, which saved local authorities a potential $120 million expenditure. This funding boost enables the upgraded pump stations to manage an additional 12 million gallons of water per hour during rain events, offering increased security during potential flooding scenarios.

"Today, we mark a milestone in our unyielding commitment to protect Kansas City residents from the unpredictability of nature,” said UG District 3 Commissioner Christian Ramirez. “Our updated defenses are not just concrete and steel, but a shield ensuring safety and continuity for generations ahead."

The project involved updating older infrastructure, ensuring it is equipped to protect against river flooding and local storms. With updated equipment and the integration of new technology, the enhanced pump stations will provide stronger defenses against future flood events.

This celebration was not just a nod to engineering achievements but highlighted the impactful results of strategic collaboration and community spirit. While part of the KC Levees project, the pump station improvements provide an immediate safeguard for the community and ensure that future generations in Kansas City will inherit a more secure and resilient living environment amidst unpredictable weather patterns.

“We are excited to celebrate this great milestone and recognize the collaborative efforts by the team who have delivered on our commitments to the community by completing these complex pump station improvements as scheduled,” said Scott Mensing, Kansas City Levees Program Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Unified Government thanks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, MoARC, HNTB, Kaw Valley Drainage District, Orrick & Associates, Midland Surveying, Michaels Construction, Inc., Supplied Industrial Solutions, Goodwin Brothers Construction, Affinis Corporation, and HDR for their partnership.

What is the KC Levees Project?

The KC Levees team is making a $529 million in improvements to approximately 17 miles of existing levees and floodwalls along the Kansas River in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. The project improves the overall resiliency and reliability of the Argentine, Armourdale, and Central Industrial District levee systems and reduces the risk of flooding to the homes and businesses located behind the levees.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been making improvements to the seven levee system along both banks of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers in the Kansas City Metropolitan area for the past 15 years. The KC Levee program consists of seven levee units (Argentine, Armourdale, Central Industrial District, Fairfax-Jersey Creek, North Kansas City, East Bottoms and Birmingham), totaling 60 miles of levees and floodwalls. Improvements are complete for the Fairfax-Jersey Creek, North Kansas City and East Bottoms Units. No improvements were deemed necessary on the Birmingham Unit.

What improvements will be made?

The KC Levees program represents an opportunity for reducing flood risk in leveed areas that include nationally important, economically vibrant residential, business and municipal areas. It will use a broad range of risk-reduction strategies, including improving infrastructure by:

  • Raising nearly 90,000 feet of levees and floodwalls by up to four to five feet;
  • Replacing 18 closure structures;
  • Repairing or modifying dozens of drainage structures;
  • Installing nearly 130 relief wells; and
  • Modifying or replacing 19 pump stations.

The final phase will focus on the Argentine, Armourdale and Central Industrial District (CID) levee units along the Kansas River. These improvements will complete nearly 15 years of construction on the system. Improvements are complete for the Fairfax-Jersey Creek, North Kansas City and East Bottoms Units. No improvements were deemed necessary along the Birmingham Unit.

Where is this project located?

The remaining project to be constructed is located along the Argentine, Armourdale and Central Industrial District levee units. These levees are located along the Kansas River – beginning at the confluence of the Missouri River and extending past the Turner Memorial Bridge (Hwy 32) in Kansas City, Kansas.

To view an interactive map of the project location, click here.

What is the schedule?

Funding has been received to begin design and construction on the proposed improvements. Design began in early 2019 and construction is anticipated to begin in 2020. All construction is scheduled to be completed by 2026.

To view the project's status, click here.

Why are the improvements necessary?

The levees withstood the Great Flood of 1993 but were nearly overtopped and experienced underseepage issues. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers re-examined the existing project and its performance during the 1993 flood event and determined that improvements to the existing project were economically justified. Subsequently, Congress authorized and appropriated funding to complete the proposed improvements.

How will the region benefit from the improvements?

When completed in 2026, the improvements will reduce the annual risk of overtopping by nearly 200%, improve the reliability and resiliency of the levee and floodwall system as well as:

  • Improve deteriorated infrastructure;
  • Strengthen infrastructure to ensure performance during future floods; and
  • Improve levee safety and flood awareness.

The completed project will reduce the potential for loss of life, economic consequences and environmental impacts. Levee systems reduce the chance of flooding, but they cannot eliminate all flood risk. That's why program benefits are maximized when local governments and stakeholders understand and act on their shared responsibility for flood-risk management by:

  • Managing floodplain uses and choices to help limit flood-related damages;
  • Putting in place effective safety, evacuation and continuity plans and processes; and
  • Educating the public about steps they can take to reduce flood-related risks and impacts.

Who can I visit with about more information?

To learn more or ask a question, visit the KC Levees Website.