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Mapping project could have far-reaching impact
Flood plain, flood insurance rates and zoning may change
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 There is a lot at stake with the new flood plain map being developed for the Cow Creek Watershed as it could impact zoning and flood insurance rates for much of Barton County.

That was the summary given to Barton County Commissioners Monday morning of the The Federal Emergency Management Agency Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP). The Kansas Department of Agriculture, Division of Water Resources, in cooperation with FEMA, is engaging in a new Risk MAP project in the Cow Creek watershed involving Barton County, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said.

The purpose of the flood plain map is to reduce the risk of flooding along Cow Creek, which runs from the northern part of the county near Beaver and flows through the Cheyenne Bottoms area before moving eastward to near Hutchinson where it enters the Arkansas River. It encompasses about 60 percent of Barton County.

Because of the potential ramifications, Boeckman said the county was asked to form a community volunteer working group that will be staying informed about the project. This may include determining how and to what extent local residents will be involved, providing comments and feedback and ensuring that stakeholders are aware of review opportunities and public meetings.

“They want to make sure the plan meets the needs of county residents,” Boeckman said. They also want to insure its accuracy.

The local members will join members from other areas in the watershed. The first meeting is set as a luncheon Tuesday, Feb. 23, in Lyons. 

The makeup of the group was the topic of discussion Monday morning. 

Environmental Manager Judy Goreham said if the map changes, it will definitely affect county-wide zoning. Because of this, she suggested Planning Commission members, contractors, bankers, realtors and surveyors take part.

The map was last revised in 2009, Goreham said. At that time, many county residents were shocked to learn that either their flood insurance rates had gone up or that they were now required to get flood insurance because they were now in the flood plain.

Any mortgage holder residing in a flood plain is required by federal law to have flood insurance.

County Engineer Barry McManaman said there is no set number of members, and the group may wind up with participants from the county as well as communities with in it. They want to get as many people involved as possible. 

It is up to the County Commission to sign off on a consolidated list of group members that will then be forwarded to the Division of Water Resources. DWR would like to have some idea of the total number by the Feb. 23 meeting.

Following the first group meetings, there will be a workshop sometime in the summer at which the general public will have an opportunity to see the proposal. However, this could be a two- or three-year project.

The watershed also takes in most of Rice County and parts of Ellsworth and Reno counties.

Applications are available at the Barton County Administrator’s Office, 1400 Main, Room 107, Great Bend, Kansas, 67530, or by calling 620-793-1800.