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In Lenexa, Kansas, trees are at the root of rethinking stormwater Mike Beezhold, CPM Senior Planner CDM Smith Kansas City, Missouri ore and more communities across the country are demonstrating how trees are the key to managing the everincreasing costs of dealing with stormwater. Officials in Ann Arbor, Mich., for example, have calculated that the city’s trees provide more than half a million dollars a year in stormwater benefits alone, intercepting 65 million gallons of runoff that would otherwise pollute lakes, streams and reservoirs.1 In our nation’s capital, one study found the tree cover in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region reduced stormwater storage costs by $4.7 billion.2 In the Kansas City metropolitan area, a recent application of the USDA Forest Service’s i-tree software demonstrated that trees significantly reduce stormwater runoff—along with the associated suspended solids—while simultaneously providing an air pollution removal value of nearly $300 million and an annual energy reduction of $14 million.3 While these and similar numbers from across the country are impressive, a broad group of partners and stakeholders in Lenexa, Kans., decided to turn the entire stormwater cost equation on its head—and the results have been remarkable. Faced with encroaching development pressures, residents and the business community of Lenexa (a suburb of the Kansas City metropolitan area) teamed 48

APWA Reporter

February 2014

Improved tree planter filtering stormwater from 87th Street

up with the Departments of Public Works (today call Municipal Services) and Parks and Recreation to launch an innovative program called Rain to Recreation. This initiative started off with a simple, yet profoundly

important, question: Why should we think of stormwater runoff as a liability in the first place? “The mission of the Rain to Recreation program is to take stormwater and

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