Green Infrastructure in Lenexa, Kansas for Stormwater

Rainwater to Recreation

Lenexa Kansas LogoThe city of Lenexa, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, has a grand vision for a more sustainable and livable community. Part of this vision has been to embark on a green infrastructure project to address stormwater runoff in Central Green, a new 10-acre park within City Center North that offers an abundance of open green space, cascading ponds with stepping stones, and a well connected trail system. The green infrastructure project, called Rain to Recreation, has revitalized the surrounding natural habitat by transforming area rainwater from a disposal problem into an appealing recreational amenity.

The cascading ponds, otherwise called step pools, are designed to increase oxygen levels and reduce the flow rate of stormwater. The series of step pools lead to a constructed wetland with native plantings for naturally treating and absorbing the water. This innovative adaptation turned Lenexa’s stormwater liability into an asset.

Lenexa KansasThe four key goals of the Rain to Recreation program:

  1. Flood prevention – flood prevention involves investigating complaints of existing flooding as well as modeling streams for potential flooding. If homes are threatened, Rain to Recreation works to initiate a capital improvement project to solve the problem.
  2. Water protection – Rain to Recreation protects restored streams and other natural areas with best management practices to also prevent and reduce pollution. Native plantings, stream buffers, sediment bays, wetlands and bioretention cells are just a few of the ways Rain to Recreation works to keep water clean.
  3. Habitat restoration – Rain to Recreation aims to improve surrounding habitat by leaving the bottom of restored channels natural, and providing riffle and pool structures in all restored streams, as well as native corridors adjacent to the streams. Striving also to protect a habitat zone around lakes for future preservation; provide fish structures, such as brush piles and sand beds in lakes, and nesting boxes for a variety of birds.
  4. Education and recreation – A vital part of every project is educating the community, whether it’s generating buy-in from the beginning, outlining recreational amenities like trails and playgrounds, or setting outlines for how to protect areas after construction. Rain to Recreation works to engage local citizens, businesses, and other area stakeholders to increase communication and satisfy needs.

Central Green Park – A Constructed Wetland

The main feature of Lenexa’s green infrastructure project for Central Green park is the stream way. The Central Green stream way drains 65 acres of rainwater runoff that is guided through seven constructed step pools to slow the flow and oxygenate the rainwater as it pours over rock prior to ending up in the constructed wetland. The wetland area is planted with native plants to support filtration of the rainwater. The roots of these native plants penetrate deep within the soil turning the soil into a big sponge that can easily soak up the rainwater. Through this bio-remediation process, stormwater quality is dramatically improved and easily absorbed on the property. This innovative stormwater management approach transforms stormwater from a cost to a benefit, not only for the natural environment, but also for social and recreational enjoyment for the community.

Take a virtual tour of Lenexa’s green infrastructure.

Lenexa One of America’s Most Livable Cities

As a result of the city of Lenexa’s vision, Lenexa was named one of the best places to live in the U.S. by Money Magazine in 2011. Also Lenexa has become a role model for other communities interested in reaping the benefits that green infrastructure design can bring to a community – showcasing their design process and outcomes so other communities can easily model and build upon their own stormwater management programs. Lenexa’s dedication to their vision shows the value of innovative stormwater management, watershed protection techniques, use of native plant species, along with recreational amenities and environmental education for community members – making Lenexa a better place for today and for the future.

EPA Supports Green Stormwater Management in Lenexa, Kansas

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, contributed funding toward Lenexa’s green infrastructure project for Central Green. EPA’s stormwater website Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure – summarizes common green infrastructure approaches and key resources for research, funding and partnerships. The EPA recognizes the need for resilient and affordable solutions to the many frail infrastructures in need of replacement or repair. Green infrastructure is one solution. You can join GreenStream, and EPA listserv featuring updates on green infrastructure publications, training and funding opportunities by sending an email to this link.

Join EPA Green Stream List

Following is the EPA video clip detailing the Lenexa’s green infrastructure project for Central Green:

 Click Here to Learn More About Green Infrastructure


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