I was a middle school science teacher for many years. I was fortunate to get to be a part of designing the science space in the new Trailwood school. After leaving that role I was fortunate to work with Blue River Watershed Association (BRWA) as their Education Director. In that role I taught, recruited teachers and wrote grants. I was not a fan of fundraising and was happy to transition to the Kansas City Water Department which didn’t include that duty. I have been involved with several great organizations that support the rivers in Kansas City including Friends of the KAW. They provide advocacy and education.
I have lived in Kansas City since 1985. When our kids were little, we went to the zoo. I knew the Blue River flowed through the zoo, but didn’t have much knowledge about the river. I really got to know the Blue River when I joined BRWA in 2005. Many people are involved in educating others about the streams and rivers of Missouri. I met people who were doing clean ups, water testing and plantings.
After joining the Water Department, my focus shifted to water quality, specifically how drinking water, waste water and storm water are all connected. When working with young people and communities I started talking about the horizontal water cycle. How little the community knows about our water system was surprising. It is easy here in the United States. You turn on the tap and you have water. For a long time, we have undervalued our water. Human development on the land is what is causing many of the climate events we have been experiencing.
If I could share something about the Blue River, I would want everyone to know that it exists. Many Kansas Citians know the Missouri River, but not the Blue. The Blue River is a lifeline for all the residents in the area. It’s a great teaching tool. It shows us how water conducts itself in a natural setting. It also allows us to see what happens when human interfere. The Blue River has taught us many lessons about flooding. It has helped us to understand how human actions are effecting the quality of water. It shows how green infrastructure projects help to reduce flooding and improve water quality.
The Blue River has its challenges, but can also be quite lovely. If you wanted to do some boating, you could put in via the boat ramp at 127 Street and Holmes. You could check out the river along Blue River Road and I-435, but it would be safer to do that with a partner. Between Grandview Road and Bannister Road there are some spectacularly beautiful places on the river. It’s just hard to get there. KC water has worked on several places along the river to try to reduce the storm water runoff issues There are a lot of new bike trails that run along the rivers.
I have seen many improvements around the Blue River and Brush Creek. Those improvements have brought wildlife. I have observed bald eagles and beavers. The other day while bike riding along Brush Creek, I had the chance to see a river otter.