OTTAWA — On the same day Ottawa officials were dealing a flood threat to their village, they also were dealing with bad news from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The corps will not be splitting the cost of the final phase of the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Study.
“Of course that type of news is discouraging,” said Ottawa Mayor Dean Meyer, “But I feel we will find a way to have the flood study completed.”
Meyer said he had been notified of the decision by U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green. Hancock County Commissioners were hoping to receive $1.5 million of the $3 million needed to complete the environmental review.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Meyer said. “But this isn’t the end of it. I’m not sure how, but we will find a way to finalize the study.”
“I’m quite confident something will be worked out so the project can continue to move forward,” said Jason Phillips, Ottawa’s assistant municipal director. Phillips indicated the village expects the corps to release its proposed work plan for the project before May.
In the meantime, Ottawa officials continue to prepare for the possibility of flooding by this weekend.
“We will have sandbags available at the city garage around the clock starting Friday morning,” said Phillips. “We will continue to monitor the river levels and react as needed.”
The National Weather Service is predicting the Blanchard River will crest in Ottawa at 27.1 feet Saturday afternoon. Flood stage is 23 feet.
Latta and U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, both of Ohio, sent a letter this week to Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, requesting the project be prioritized. Priority status would have secured funding for the project for the second half of fiscal year 2013.
“In 2007, the Blanchard River flooding was one of the most destructive incidents, causing $50 million in damages while forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate and halting local business operations," Latta said in a release following the corps' decision. "As I have emphasized time and time again, this is a safety and economic issue that directly impacts the Findlay, Hancock County, Ottawa, and Putnam County communities. I will continue to stress to the Army Corps of Engineers, along with my colleagues in the U.S. Senate, how critical it is to keep this project on track and implement a permanent flood control solution on the Blanchard River.”
Mike Pniewski, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District, reviewed the feasibility study in December, examining diversion structures, channel deepening and levies.Estimates to remedy the problem were between $120 million and $150 million.
Alternative plans also were presented in Ottawa and Findlay, which included modifying the Road I9 bridge in Ottawa and establishing in-line retention ponds along the Blanchard River between Findlay and Ottawa.
The project was converted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planning process in 2012. Officials said completing the chief’s report by the time the next Water Resource Development Act passes will be necessary for the project to be eligible for authorization. The project has entered its sixth year of study. The local cost-share necessary for the project is in place.
Blanchard River flooding