US Army Corps of Engineers
Kansas City District

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Kansas Citys Levees Project?

The Kansas Citys Levees is preparing to make $453 million in improvements to approximately 17 miles of existing levees and floodwalls along the Kansas River in Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo.  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 Kansas Citys, Missouri and Kansas 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 Kansas Citys 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 200 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, Kan.  

How much will this project cost?

The $453M project has been funded to completion by Congress through the Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2018. Most project costs are paid by the Federal government.

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 2024. 

View the project status HERE

Why are the improvements necessary?

The Kansas Citys 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.

What is a leveed area?

A leveed area is defined as the area located behind the levee and/or floodwall system.  The Kansas Citys Levees reduces the risk of flooding for 32 square miles of industrial, commercial, and residential areas, and includes 100,000 jobs, 7,000 structures and $25B in investments located within the Kansas City metropolitan area. The area is vital to the national economy as a manufacturing, distribution, transportation, and warehousing hub. The Kansas Citys Levees have prevented nearly $27.4B in flood damages since construction. 

How will the region benefit from the improvements?

When completed in 2024, the Kansas Citys Levees Program 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.

Will the level of flood protection be lowered during construction?

Our contractor is required to maintain a 1% annual chance of exceedance flood protection at all times during construction. If an existing feature must be removed, lowered or taken out of service during construction, temporary protection measures and contingency plans will be put in place to provide a similar level of protection to the existing levee in the event of a flood during construction. River conditions will be monitored throughout the project to ensure preparations can be made and residents notified should the river be forecast to rise high enough to reach the temporary flood protection measures.

Will this project eliminate future chances of flooding?

The Kansas Citys Levees project will reduce the chances of flooding to the leveed areas behind the levees but will not eliminate the chance of flooding.  The potential for flooding is always present when living and working along river systems.  All levees or floodwalls have some chance of overtopping or breaching prior to overtopping. 

What can I do to lower my flood risk?

Individual awareness and preparedness is the best way to ensure you remain safe during a flood event.  Visit with the non-federal sponsors and County Emergency Management Agencies about their Emergency Action Plans.  Prepare an individual plan for you and specific to your situation.  Consider how to evacuate the leveed area safety.  Residents and business owners must understand their risk and take action to reduce it.  It is recommended that all residents and businesses located within a leveed are to consider flood insurance.

Who owns, operates, and maintains the levees?

Living with levees requires a shared responsibility.  The Kansas Citys Levees systems are owned and operated by non-federal sponsors.  Below is a list of the non-federal sponsors that own, operate, and maintain the Kansas Citys Levees projects:

  • Birmingham Drainage District - Birmingham
  • Fairfax Drainage District – Fairfax-Jersey Creek
  • Kaw Valley Drainage District – Argentine, Armourdale, CID, Fairfax-Jersey Creek
  • Kansas City, Missouri – Armourdale, CID, East Bottoms, North Kansas City
  • North Kansas City Levee District – North Kansas City
  • Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas – Argentine, Armourdale, CID

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspects the levee systems annually and also provides technical and flood fighting support when requested by the non-federal sponsor.

Will the levees includes recreational trails?

The levees and floodwalls include a driving surface on top of or behind the structure for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the non-federal sponsors to survey the system during flood events and inspections.  Pedestrian access is not a designed function of the USACE-constructed system.  However, the non-federal sponsors are allowed and considering opening these driving surfaces to pedestrian access.  Please visit with the non-federal sponsor for more information regarding pedestrian access on their respective levee unit.

Why are the rivers not dredged to lower the water rather than raising levees and floodwalls?

Dredging is a temporary measure that could lower the river bottom and water elevations.  However, lowering of the river bottom or water elevation could adversely impact adjacent landowners, public and private water supply intakes, and infrastructure along the Kansas and Missouri Rivers.  Dredging of these rivers are closely monitored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  For additional information contact the Kansas City District Regulatory Branch at (816) 389-3990.

Will these improvements change my flood insurance rates?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not determine flood insurance requirements or rates. Contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or your county floodplain administrator for all information regarding flood insurance rates. The official website of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is www.FloodSmart.gov.

Who can I visit with about more information?

Visit the Contact Form located on the Kansas Citys Levees website.  All requests for information will be emailed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Kansas Citys Levees Program Manager.