Last updated: August 25. 2013 12:29AM - 97 Views

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WASHINGTON — Members of the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Coalition gave another push this week for congressional representatives to support their flood-reduction efforts.Ottawa Mayor J. Dean Meyer, Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, and Tony Iriti, director of Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development, had meetings Wednesday and Thursday with U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green.The focal point of the meetings was an ongoing study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to a news release from Brown’s Washington office and information from Latta’s staff.Speaking by cellphone Thursday, Iriti said this week’s trip, and an earlier one in November, helps keep flood mitigation in front of the Washington politicians. He said there were no major developments, but progress was made on details surrounding the ongoing Army Corps study.So far, the federal government has provided $1.4 million for the project. The state has appropriated $6 million and promised another $3 million, while local groups and governments have provided a variety of in-kind services and funding.In his news release, Brown stressed the importance of completing the Army Corps study.“In 2007, flooding of the Blanchard River caused approximately $70 million worth of damage to homes and businesses in Ottawa and Findlay,” he said. “There’s no denying the importance of this flood-mitigation project — which is why these communities have demonstrated a strong financial commitment to it, and why I have continually pushed the Army Corps of Engineers to work quickly and thoroughly to advance subsequent steps of the project.”The Army Corps is wrapping up the first two phases of its three-phase study, said Project Manager Michael Pniewski, of the Corps’ Toledo office. Phase 3 will take $2 million in federal funding, Pniewski said, and Congress hasn’t appropriated that money yet.Brown, who serves on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, will work to secure funding to complete the Blanchard study, a spokeswoman said.“We are going to be working to secure additional funding for the Blanchard project in fiscal year 2013,” Allison Preiss said. “The local match is there, obviously. The folks in Findlay and Ottawa have put a lot of their own resources there.”Iriti said the trips to Washington pay dividends. The legislators and their staff have a working knowledge of the Blanchard watershed’s difficulties as well as the study and its cost. He said Ohio’s senators hold committee posts that put the Blanchard project on a good footing.“The only assurances we got were that they were working on our behalf,” Iriti said, “and that’s a good thing. They haven’t turned us down. The know the need for it.”You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.

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