Government & Politics

KC Water Services will help some households with drainage problems

Kansas City Water Services will help some property owners fix improper plumbing connections that can lead to sewer pipe overflows.
Kansas City Water Services will help some property owners fix improper plumbing connections that can lead to sewer pipe overflows. jsleezer@kcstar.com

Kansas City Water Services is launching a new program, dubbed Keep Out the Rain KC, to help some households with improper plumbing connections and drainage problems.

The voluntary program is aimed at disconnecting gutter downspouts, sump pumps and other drainage mechanisms on private property that are improperly connected to sewers and that can allow rainwater to overwhelm sanitary sewer pipes where that water doesn’t belong.

During heavy rains, this rainwater overwhelms the city’s sewer system and can contribute to sewage backups in homes and businesses.

The program will take place over the next six years in strategic areas of the city. It is designed to initially address this problem particularly in areas near Interstate 29 and Barry Road in the Northland, near Interstate 435 and Bannister Road, and south of I-435 to the southern boundary of the city.

“This program is really a partnership between Kansas City Water and property owners,” Water Services director Terry Leeds said in a statement. “Property owners in the program areas have an opportunity to have their improper connections fixed at no cost.”

Leeds said the program makes sense, because drainage problems and improper plumbing connections on private property contribute significantly to the city’s sewer overflow problems.

The department has already embarked on a massive program to repair or replace ancient sewers and address overflows in the combined sewer area, which covers much of the central city. Much of that work is on the public sewer side.

The Keep Out the Rain program, in contrast, deals with problems on the private sewer side, in pipes from homes and businesses to the street, and in parts of the city that have separate sanitary sewers.

The department will evaluate properties in designated areas for interior and exterior plumbing connections. If they are cost-effective to repair, the department will fix them. Leeds said there was not a specific limit to the costs or the timetable, but the department will judge whether the amount of water diverted and the solution are workable and have a reasonable price tag.

Repairs will be completed by licensed plumbers who have been prequalified to participate in the program.

Over the next six years, the department expects to evaluate 55,000 properties, although not all of those will get fixes.

Property owners can find out if their property qualifies, and when contractors will be in their area, by entering their address in online interactive maps: kcwaterservices.org/rain/is-my-property-eligible/.

Eligible property owners can request an inspection by calling 816-513-0200. More information is at kcwaterservices.org/rain/.

Lynn Horsley: 816-226-2058, @LynnHorsley

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