Case Study

Water Quality

Lenexa, KS: Rain to Recreation



Credit: Vireo landscape architecture and planning

Lenexa’s Rain to Recreation initiative embraces stormwater as an asset for community development.


Funding strategy began with general funds and small sales tax, now financed by stormwater utility bills.


Lenexa, Kansas



Metro: 74% White, 12.5% Black; 8.5% Latino; 2.5% Asian

City: 80% White; 6% Black; 7% Latino; 4% Asian

Below Poverty Line: 6.5% Individuals

Located along the banks of the Kansas River within the Kansas City Metropolitan area, the small community of Lenexa, Kansas has taken a decisively green approach to managing their stormwater issues that have caused major flooding and sewer overflows.

Rain to Recreation treats the water as an amenity for the community rather than a liability, using a range of green and grey infrastructure strategies to reduce flooding and protect water quality, while also providing recreational and educational opportunities for the community.

Rain to Recreation uses regulatory and non-regulatory approaches, as well as major capital projects and land acquisition to achieve its goals. Trees play a key role within these strategies. Land within floodplains and riparian zones that are purchased outright are being restored with native vegetation, including trees to increase infiltration of rainwater and filter out pollutants before they reach the river.

Credit: Vireo

  • General fund [early stages only]
  • Now-expired one-eighth cent sales tax
  • Currently funded by stormwater utility fee collected on county property tax bills
  • Systems capital development charge on new developments


  • Educating residents on ways to prevent pollution and reduce stormwater runoff
  • Finding ways to engage the community – residential and professional – in protecting stormwater
  • Responding to emergency spills and pollution complaints
  • Issuing permits for commercial businesses, construction sites and land development to prevent pollution
  • Inspecting permitted job sites for compliance
  • Utilizing green infrastructure and stormwater Best Management Practices to treat and reduce runoff
  • Monitoring lakes, creeks and streams for pollution, identifying problem areas and planning protection.
  • Watershed Management Division of the Public Works and Utilities Department
  • Parks and Recreation Department
  • Lower Platte South Natural Resources District
Lessons Learned
  • Community commitment crucial to implementing plan
  • Intensive outreach and engagement cements citizen support
  • Stormwater utility fee established [and accepted] by local residents and businesses
  • New developments pay systems charge to finance public infrastructure — including green infrastructure
Related Resources