OTTAWA — During his annual State of the Village address, Ottawa Mayor Dean Meyer said mitigating the village’s flooding problem will be his top priority in 2016.
In 2015, construction workers lowered the eastern embankment of the Road I-9 bridge based on a suggestion by the Army Corps of Engineers. By lowering the embankment by about six feet, officials say flooding from the Blanchard River will be reduced.
To further the village’s flood mitigation plan, workers will create a diversion channel under the I-9 bridge beginning this year.
“When the water gets high, it will go into this diversion channel and go right under the bridge instead of pooling up,” Meyer said. “Essentially, it’ll take some of that water and move it through the bridge quicker.”
Meyer said the channel will not completely rid the village of flooding, but will reduce the amount of what he calls “nuisance floods” that can create an inconvenience for residents when roads are closed because of high water.
As part of the plan, Ottawa will work in conjunction with Findlay to create the diversion channel. Ottawa will focus on the lower portion of the Blanchard River, while Findlay will take care of the upper portion.
“We have to take care of ours first, because if Findlay did their project first, the water would flow down here faster and we would be in trouble,” Meyer said.
The mayor said he hopes to have the diversion channel constructed this year, though he was unsure of an exact timeline. He said he did not wish to comment on the cost of the project, other than to say it is “within our budget from monies we received from the state.”
In creating the diversion channel, several properties will become available for acquisition by the village. To address how these properties should be managed, the village has plans to create a Community Development Committee made up of six to 15 local residents.
“With all the flooding we’ve had, there are quite a few properties that we cannot build on, which means there’s going to have to be a way of managing that property,” said Timothy Macke, president of Ottawa Village Council. “A lot of the property is basically wetlands, and we are not normally used to managing that type of property.
“This committee will help us with zoning, residential properties and how they’re managed.”
After the committee has made its proposals, Macke said the council will determine which recommendations will take top priority.
“Then, council will go back to the committee for their input and expertise to make those things happen,” he said.
To volunteer for the Community Development Committee, contact an Ottawa Village Council member or call the village office at 419-523-5020.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.