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Second Saturday Conversation: The Floods and Acts of Congress that have Shaped Kansas City’s Waterways

February 10, 2018, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

About Second Saturdays

Second Saturday Conversations feature interesting sci-tech and engineering speakers and topics in an informal setting. The programs are held in the Auditorium or Main Reading Room from 11:00 a.m. to Noon.

The exhibition galleries and the William N. Deramus III Cosmology Theater are open 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. Free admission and parking. Reference, research, and circulation services are not available on Second Saturdays.

The February 10 program

While federal water resource development efforts dating back to the early 1800’s were initially focused on waterway improvements to aid navigation, a series of devastating floods across the nation generated federal interest in flood control by 1917. Formal studies for Missouri River Basin flood control began in 1928, and a need was identified for levees to protect Kansas City in the 1930’s. However, the first major federal project providing flood risk reduction benefits to the Kansas City area was completed in 1937, over 1,400 river miles upstream in Fort Peck, Montana. Today, federal flood risk reduction infrastructure within the Kansas City Metropolitan Area includes several miles of levee systems and channel improvements with projects on the Missouri River, Kansas River, Blue River, Little Blue River, Brush Creek, Line Creek, and Turkey Creek. Upstream federal reservoir systems also provide flood risk reduction benefits to Kansas City, such as the six mainstem Missouri River Dams including Fort Peck, the Kansas River Basin Reservoir System, and two Little Blue River Basin dams. Federal flood risk reduction projects are still being designed and constructed on many of Kansas City’s waterways. Other ongoing flood risk management activities include emergency operations, dam and levee safety programs, water management, and flood plain management services.

The presentation will briefly introduce a few key floods that drove the federal flood risk management policy at a national level, and will provide a more in-depth look at some of the major floods that have impacted Kansas City. Quotes from key documents and local business leaders who helped shape local projects will be used throughout the presentation. The science of developing estimates of the frequency of floods and design flows for large rivers like the Missouri down to smaller local streams will be briefly presented along with limitations, uncertainty analysis procedures, and the current methodology to consider the effects of climate change. Locations and examples of projects in the Kansas City area will be summarized along with the current flood risk management program activities and risk communication challenges.

The speaker

Chance J. Bitner, P.E., Chief of the Hydrology and Hydraulics Section, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District.

Admission tickets

The event is free and open to the public; however, e-tickets are required.


Parking is free in Library parking lots and along the west side of Holmes Street between 51st and 52nd streets. The main entrance to the Library grounds is on Cherry Street. The Linda Hall Library is not affiliated with UMKC. Parking in all UMKC lots is by permit or meter. Doors open at 10 a.m.


February 10, 2018
11:00 am - 12:00 pm
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Eric Ward


Linda Hall Library
5109 Cherry
Kansas City, MO 64110 United States
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Questions? Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 for more information about these events.

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