Water Conference Session 2

Economics & Engineering

Water Systems that Sustain the Heartland


About this session

Economics & Engineering: Water Systems that Sustain the Heartland brings together a panel of policy makers, engineers, and historians to examine how management of a natural resource like the Missouri River has shaped the communities and economies of the Midwest. From these contrasting perspectives emerge lessons on what has been gained and lost and what the future holds for a waterway at the heart of the country.

Panel Discussion

On Wednesday, October 287, at 7:00 PM CDT panelists Terry Leeds, Jon Stephens, Amahia Mallea, and Chance Bitner joined conference moderator David Gallo for a lively discussion of the challenges of water systems with special attention paid to the Missouri River and Kansas City area.

Meet the Panelists

Terry Leeds,Director KC Water, is a civil engineer with 28 years of experience in the water industry. Terry started his engineering career with Black & Veatch where he worked on water/wastewater projects as a design engineer and project engineer. He has held several different positions in the City, having worked in the Facilities Engineering Division, the Stormwater Engineering Division, and the Capital Improvements Management Office, and as Manager of Kansas City’s Overflow Control ProgramMr. Leeds earned a BS in civil engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla.

Jon Stephens is President and CEO of Port KC, an organization that exists to grow the economy of Kansas City through advancing transportation, logistics, and revitalization. Jon is an economic development professional who has spent his career focused on utilizing thoughtful development concepts to improve the community. Previous leadership roles include serving as president of one of the largest urban redevelopment districts in America, director of economic development for Kansas City, Kansas, and CEO of VisitKC. As an entrepreneur, he has guided boards and corporations to innovative success. 

Amahia MalleaAssociate Professor of History at Drake University, is an environmental historian interested in the relationship between American societies and their lands and resources. She is the author of, A River in the City of Fountains: An Environmental History of Kansas City and the Missouri River (University of Kansas Press, 2018), which examines the city’s decades-long management of the river for often conflicting purposes of commerce (flood control and navigation) and public health (drinking water and sewage). She earned her doctorate in 2006 from the University of Missouri. 

Chance Bitner is currently serving as the lead engineer for over $500M of improvements to levees in the Kansas City metropolitan area being conducted by the Kansas City District of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in partnership with the Kaw Valley Drainage District, Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, and the City of Kansas City, Missouri.  Over the last 17 years, he has held positions with USACE including Chief of the Hydrology and Hydraulics Section, Missouri River Recovery Implementation Program Manager, and as a Hydraulic Engineer. Mr. Bitner earned a BS and MS in Civil Engineering at Colorado State University.

Start Learning

Get to know each panelist and the work they are doing with these short introductory videos. 

Explore Further

Explore the themes of the session further with recommended resources from Linda Hall Library, more from our panelists, and other resources.