RE: Continued Support of Federal Appropriations for Kansas City (MO & KS) Levees Improvements.
Dear Honorable Members of Congress, House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Senate and House Authorizations and Appropriations Committees, Office of Management and Budget, Army Corps of Engineers, Army Corps of Civil Works:
The Blue Valley Industrial Association (“BViA”) represents the largest industrial and commercial area within the city limits of Kansas City, Missouri. The BViA, along with its businesses and residents, would like to express support of Phase I and Phase II of the Kansas City’s Levees projects and thank you for your efforts in having Phase II of the Kansas City Levees (CID and Armourdale levees) authorized in the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nations Act. Though much of the BViA area lies outside of the levee-protected zones, we certainly support the improvement of these systems. A failure of any portion of the Kansas City’s levee system would not only cause major damage to those businesses, residents and infrastructure within the levee-protected areas, but it would also cause considerable disruption to our regional, state and national commerce. BViA appreciates the importance of the Kansas City Levee system in protecting the safety of people, billions of dollars in private and public investment, and the interstate railway system which is crucial to the economic vitality of our region and nation.
Though the levees have not been breached since the 1951 flood, there has been considerable degradation of the levees since that devastating event. In 1993, the Missouri River was within a couple of inches of cresting the levee wall in the West Bottoms. In 2011, the reservoir releases at Gavin’s Point required an intentional breach of levees along the Missouri River north of Kansas City to reduce the risk to Kansas City’s levees. Though Kansas City and the nation avoided disaster, the 2011 event resulted in billions of dollars in direct loss to the Class 1 railroads and accentuated the vulnerability of our interstate rail system and the risks posed by an inadequate levee system. The anticipated losses resulting from a flood caused by a breach of Kansas City’s levee system would be crippling to the region and nation. When you consider the degradation issues and the inadequate height of the levees, the more frequent severe rain events projected for the region, and the higher anticipated flow rates for the Missouri River – a breach of the Kansas City levees a matter of “when”, not “if”.
Recognizing the need to secure critical infrastructure, Phases 1 and 2 of the Kansas City Levees were authorized through collaborative efforts from the government and private sectors. Since then, the citizens of Kansas City, Missouri have passed a General Obligation Bond to help fund the local match necessary to receive federal funding. The United States Army Corps of Engineers and local levee sponsor, Kaw Valley Drainage District, have signed a Project Partnership Agreement for the design and initial construction of the project. With the project being “shovel ready” and receptive to additional federal funding, the BViA believes that federal appropriation of funds is timely. Given its importance to the community, the region and the nation, we strongly support the Kansas City Levees project, and would request that the project receive federal appropriation to assist the USACE in its efforts and to expedite the construction of this critical piece of infrastructure.
Blue Valley Industrial Association