LIMA — Allen County may be getting its first state-sponsored wetlands in the form of a drainage project for the Boughman watershed.
Allen County Drainage Engineer Joe Gearing said the goal of the project is to eliminate drainage issues for the watershed by creating natural water-retaining areas, in the form of wetlands, that better control rain runoff and cut down on large amounts of standing water often seen in the area.
“If you’ve driven through those neighborhoods on a rainy day, then you’d be an advocate of the project,” Gearing said. “To me, those houses are unmarketable because properties are inundated all the way around, and it just sits there.”
With the addition of 20 acres of wetlands and the associated plumbing, he said such problems should be eased.
As for the project’s price-tag, using wetlands as a retainment tool should also help cut down on how much the project should cost local taxpayers. The state, through its H2Ohio program, has made it a priority to increase the amount of wetlands in the Lake Erie basin in order to cut down on dangerous algae blooms.
Prior to mass development of Allen County largely for agricultural needs, natural wetlands stood throughout the area and acted as natural filters for dangerous materials. Today, they are almost non-existent. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is looking at providing $1.5 million toward the project in order to reverse that trend.
Early estimates put the total cost at $3 million, Gearing said.
The remaining costs would then be assessed toward the utility bills of people living in the Boughman watershed, which includes the neighborhoods southwest of the Bluelick Road and West Street intersection, as well as Allen-Oakwood Correctional Institution.
As for actual placement of the proposed wetlands, a portion would be directly southeast of that intersection, another would be south of Bluelick Road just east of Thorndyke Drive behind the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the third location would be west of the Lima Moose Lodge.
If the project moves forward, the wetlands would be the first in Allen County approved by H2Ohio.
During a Wednesday morning meeting with Allen County commissioners to discuss the wetlands, Natural Areas and Preserves Scenic Rivers Manager Christina Kuchle praised the direction of the project as being one of the first in Ohio to incorporate wetlands directly as a retainment tool for a larger drainage project.
“We’d love to do more of these,” she said.
Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan asked if the first round of wetlands could lead to more down the line in order to create a “mitigation bank.” Since there’s ample rural land in that area, Kuchle said it could potentially be a good spot.
Basically, mitigation banks allow private investors to develop additional wetlands as a sort of trade-off for impacting important natural water resources.
Construction is expected to begin on the project next summer.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.