Kansas City to resume street sweeping, 3,000 miles to clean in 4 months

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After cutting it from the budget just three months ago, council members are taking action to resume street sweeping.

Residents were upset when the city decided to save $2 million by eliminating it in May. Many taxpayers consider street sweeping to be a basic city service.

However, the transportation, infrastructure and operations committee learned Wednesday it's actually a requirement.  The city has a mandate by the state of Missouri to remove pollutants from its streets. And it doesn't stop at the state level.

As part of a federal consent decree to separate storm sewers from sanitary lines in Kansas City, the Environmental Protection Agency also requires Kansas City to sweep all the streets where there's a combined sewer line at least twice a year.

When the cut was made, city managers thought the agreement could be modified, but the feds have said "no."

"If we didn’t pick it up out of the streets, it's going in our river and lakes and wherever else that goes from the storm sewers," Councilwoman Teresa Loar said. "It clogs up our (sewer) lines. I can only imagine what would happen if we didn’t sweep the streets."

In 2018, a special assistant city manager says street sweepers removed 4,000 tons of debris from Kansas City's streets. Now, council members are directing the city manager to spend up to $2 million to restart street sweeping immediately. More than 3,000 miles have to be swept by the end of the year to keep the city in compliance with its federal agreement.

Twelve full-time city jobs were eliminated when the program was cut. The city believes it can have five street sweepers back on the job quickly.

About $500,000 would be spent on outside contractors to get all the streets swept by the end of the year.

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