OTTAWA — The prospect of getting more federal money to relieve flooding problems is just a “glimmer of hope,” Ottawa’s assistant municipal director, Jason Phillips, said Wednesday.
Residents learned disappointing news during the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Coalition meeting when Mike Pniewski with the Army Corps of Engineers said leftover funding from other 2013 Army Corps of Engineer projects could not be redirected to the Blanchard River project because the law says if you didn’t receive money in 2012 you can’t get any in 2013, including leftover funds.
In last month’s meeting, Pniewski, referring to the Army Corps of Engineers’ funding issues, explained the Blanchard project is not funded in the federal budget for 2013 because it was not in the federal budget for 2012. In 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers was still using carryover dollars from the 2011 federal budget, so no money from the 2012 budget was used for the Blanchard project.
This may put a halt to further progress on the flooding mitigation study for now.
Pniewski said they are completing the Tentatively Selected Plan that will put together the selection solutions for flood mitigation. This plan will be presented to local public officials Aug. 7 and 8. Once approved at the local level the plan will go to Army Corps division headquarters for approval.
The next step would be releasing this plan for public and agency review and then doing an Independent Peer Review. Pniewski said this review and setting up this review has to be 100 percent federally funded. He said the only possibility of federal funds would be projects receiving funds before 2012 that are just getting completed and have leftover money. Pniewski said they probably would not know if any was available until the end of this fiscal year.
Steve Wilson, an engineer with Hancock County and Findlay, said the Hancock County commissioners may fund some studies that are seasonal sensitive such as mussels and wetland studies. He said they would prevent a further delay if money when federal money is received.
Ottawa councilman Gene Hovest expressed his sense of urgency to do something about the flooding.
“The weather pattern over the last several weeks is very similar to what we had before the flood in 2007,” he said. “We’ve already had close calls. This issue is not going away.”
Kathy Shaver, from U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s office, said the Bowling Green Republican has drafted language to change the rules regarding the leftover funds. She also said Latta, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R, Ohio, also had sent a letter to Jo Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works on July 1. In that letter the three legislatures urged more funding for the remainder of FY 2013.
Blanchard River flooding