OTTAWA — Flood management and water quality for the Blanchard River watershed were topics addressed during a meeting Tuesday at the Putnam County Courthouse.
Citizens United For A Better Blanchard, an organization started to improve water quality in the watershed, as well as commissioners from Putnam, Hardin, Hancock, Allen, Seneca and Wyandot counties, met for the meeting.
Dan Ellerbrock, retired Soil and Water Conservation District technician, shared the watershed’s features. The Blanchard River is the only stream in northwest Ohio that flows west flowing away from Lake Erie.
“The majority of the flooding happens in winter months,” Ellerbrock said.
He provided methods to alleviate flooding at the watershed including delineating restrictive areas in the floodway, establishing standards for retention and detention holding ponds, promoting and encouraging water control structures and promoting and encouraging the use of cover crops.
“We have areas where we have high banks on both sides so when there are partial dams in the river the water will build up pressure,” Ellerbrock said.
One proposal would be implementing widening and narrowing of areas to allow for uniform flow depth. Areas where work is completed would have the trees removed and piled on the outside of the work area.
Flooding prevention methods Ellerbrock suggested were using control structures, where individual landowners could regulate and control discharge of subsurface water from their fields during rain events. He said this also allows easy control of subsurface drainage from manure applications to reduce the risk of excess nutrients entering the streams.
Leo Schroeder, former certified crop advisor, grew up on the Blanchard River and said the river has flooded five of the last six years.
“The water gets there so quick, and that’s why it floods. The only way you can alleviate the flooding is to make it so it can take it,” Schroeder said.
Jim Hoorman, Natural Resource Conservation Service soil health specialist, spoke about the importance of cover crops.
“We lose 30 to 35 percent of our water storage in soils any time you till up the soil,” Hoorman said. Cover crops physically lift up the soil to give it more space to store water, according to Hoorman.
“As we build up organic matter we improve our soil structure and will find out the soils hold more water and will release it to the river less quickly,” Hoorman said.
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