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Cow Creek floodplain remapping progressing
new deh county flood plain map pic
Pictures is Cow Creek as it winds its way through central Kansas. The creeks floodplain is in the process of being remapped. - photo by Tribune file photo

 Barton County Commissioner Alicia Straub recently attended a Cow Creek Working Group meeting, the on-going Kansas Division of Water Resources project involving the Cow Creek Watershed.

The ramifications of this effort loom large for the area, she said. It means there may be changes in floodplain maps that would impact property owners.

Cow Creek is a 112-mile-long stream that flows through Rice and Reno counties and is a tributary of the Arkansas River; its confluence with the Arkansas is about 10 miles southeast of Hutchinson. But, its watershed area takes over 900 square miles and includes Hoisington, Claflin and rural areas in between.

In February, the Kansas Division of Water Resources began a study of the Cow Creek watershed in Barton and Rice counties that will eventually result in new floodplain insurance maps, County Engineer Barry McManaman said. The current maps were developed in 1988 and new technology is being used to provide more accurate ones. 

The DWR asked both counties to form working groups that will be asked to look at the draft copy of the maps and provide input as they are being developed. Barton County notified residents of the opportunity to volunteer to be a part of the working group in Rice County and currently there are 15 people who have been recognized by the County Commission as a part of the group.

In addition to Straub, several other Barton County residents are members of the working group which first met in Lyons Feb. 23.

“I don’t see a lot of big changes,” McManaman said. The new map may have the watershed expanding in areas and contracting in others.

Nonetheless, “this is serious business,” Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg said.

As the draft maps are developed, the working groups will meet periodically to review the maps and provide input to the DWR. The public will be given an opportunity in an open house to review the draft maps. 

It is tentatively planned to have the public review occur beginning in December, McManaman said. Sometime in the spring of 2017, the maps will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and considered to be in their final version and will only be able to be changed by an official appeal. So it is important that the public take the opportunity to look at the maps and give their concerns to the DWR, McManaman said.