Manhattan Announces Floodplain Pilot Project

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas City District has begun a large pilot project in Manhattan to help communities in the Big Blue River floodplain apply tools for managing flood risks.

The tools being discussed are home elevations, flood proofing and, for some, possibly buyouts. These are strategies not typically found in USACE projects.

Homes and businesses in the project area are on the border of Pottawatomie and Riley counties, including the following neighborhoods: Brookfield, Dix, Eagles Landing, Knoxberry, Countryside Estates, Northview and the commercial areas along U.S. 24 Highway.

A public open house to share data on the cost effectiveness of the tools is planned for 6 to 9 p.m. April 16 at the Manhattan Fire Station headquarters, 2000 Denison Ave. Additional open houses will be scheduled by the city, county, state and federal partners.

“This public open house is an important step in kicking off this pilot project,” said Senior Planner Chad Bunger. “The meeting is intended to inform Manhattan, Riley County and Pottawatomie County residents of the project and gather feedback on how the USACE and the local officials can limit the flood risks along the Big Blue River.”

The objectives of the pilot project are to reduce flood risk for homes and businesses and improve on how USACE is involving stakeholders in risk-informed decision making. This includes helping the residents and businesses understand their flood risk, then looking at measures that can reduce the impact of floods.

This is being done through a focus group and at the open houses. The city and both counties are closely involved, with the City of Manhattan leading public involvement efforts with facilitation support from the Institute for Water Resources at USACE.

A topic that will not be a focus is flood insurance, although this is also recognized as an important tool for addressing flood risk. Separate meetings will follow on that topic and will be coordinated through the city and counties.

The tools being considered would be pursued through the appropriate entity that has authorization to implement it, and it must have funding to pursue it.

The project is intended to complement, or work in harmony with, the county hazard mitigation plans with a focus on flooding. This will be done by getting public feedback on how they may choose from tools that reduce their risk of flooding. The project will also set up flood inundation maps like the nearby Wildcat Creek website, provided by the National Weather Service.

The pilot project is a continuation of the popular U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Silver Jackets Program, which started in 2009. The program enables active USACE participation in the existing Kansas Hazard Mitigation Team, which prioritized this area of the Big Blue River for this pilot.

The project is a partnership among several federal, state and local entities:

The Kansas Hazard Mitigation Team

Kansas Department of Emergency Management

Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources

City of Manhattan

Pottawatomie County

Riley County

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

NOAA National Weather Service (NWS)

U.S. Geological Survey