De Soto city officials must take larger view of stormwater issues
Nearly 40 De Soto families learned this month that if nothing changed their homes would be listed in future floodplain maps. It doesn't take much thought to understand the anxiety such a threat to what likely is the families' greatest investment must cause.
We applaud the city for immediately scheduling an informational meeting attended by Johnson County Stormwater Management personnel, the office behind the new maps. There were some understandable recriminations, but for the most part residents realized none in the room were responsible for the situation and were surely powerless to change it.
They appeared equally aware that their energy should spent in finding ways to remove their homes from the future maps. The city has suggested ways that could be done for many homes. It is to be hoped Mayor Dave Anderson's desire to help will be shared by the City Council. Small individual mitigation measure could remove many De Soto homes from the future floodplain. It would seem to be cost effect for the city and county to help with the financial aspects of those efforts.
The De Meadows' experience should be a lesson for the city to prevent building in those areas the proposed map indicates would be in the floodplain should development upstream -- including the pretty much untouched Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant -- occur with no thought to stormwater management.
On that last point, it is obvious the city's power to regulate ends at the city limits. As the mayor also noted, De Soto is at the bottom of a drainage basin that extends south as far as Gardner. There will have to be a cooperative effort to ensure the recently alarmed homeowners don't face a similar problem in the future.
County stormwater management staffers at the meeting said the county was moving to regulating development in floodplains to a very restrictive point. City officials, both elected and professional, must acquaint themselves with the issues of that process and all other aspects of the county's management plan so that they can best advocate for the city.
They need to constantly remind the county, especially in light of the proposed transfer of Sunflower, of the consequences to De Soto of irresponsible development upstream.