1/22/15 – 5:31 A.M.

Preliminary plans for reconstructing the I-9 bridge near Ottawa are complete, but you can’t see them just yet.  The Putnam County Sentinel reports officials from the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District gave a report on the bridge at a recent meeting.  District Manager Lynn Army said the plans will be made public when a complete version is finished.

The I-9 bridge has been blamed for creating flooding issues along the Blanchard River in Putnam County.  Many say the bridge approach slows down the flow of the river.

Army said that the steady state model of water flow showed that changes to the bridge would reduce the river depth by four to six inches.  He believes that the unsteady state model will show even more reduction in river depth.

MORE: Putnam County Sentinel

Read More →

1/12/15 – 5:23 A.M.

Several elected officials discussed Blanchard River flood control in Putnam County over the weekend. The Lima News reports Senator Rob Portman and Congressman Bob Latta spoke to Ottawa residents Saturday.

Portman told those on hand the project was able to get a special exemption from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use state money. He added that he hoped the flood study will be finished in time to qualify for the next round of legislation that would provide funding and authorize the project.

The Maumee Valley Conservancy District’s Lynn Army was also on hand. Army said that engineering firms are studying the I-9 bridge’s impact on flooding. They’re also looking at how a diversion channel could be effective.

MORE: Lima News

Read More →

12/30/14     5:30 a.m.

A plan seven years in the making started to take shape this year. As part of our year in review, we look back at the progress made in flood mitigation this year. At a meeting in November, Army Corps Lt. Col. Karl Jansen said the Corps is working toward releasing a project report this spring.

Audio: Karl Jansen

The tentative plan includes a levee south of the Findlay Reservoirs and a large diversion channel on the west side of Hancock County and will cost an estimated $87 million.

Jansen said after the report is released in the spring there will be a series of public meetings for questions and comments, followed by optimization of the project. The goal is to have the feasibility and environmental impact reports by the end of 2015, then a chief’s report to be submitted to Congress in the spring of 2016.

But while some saw the plan as progress, many in the agriculture community saw it as a threat.

Audio: Gary Wilson

Hancock County Farm Bureau President Gary Wilson said the recent meetings with the Corps have been helpful and he is in favor of continuing discussion.

Jansen was invited out to visit farms in the area while in Findlay in November. He said the visit gave him a better understanding of the complexity of the project and the need for more open communication between the Corps and the public.

The Corps’ informational web page on the project can be found here.

Click on each image to see a larger version. Images provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Read More →

12/19/14 – 5:16 A.M.

Revised plans for flood mitigation in Ottawa have been accepted. The Putnam County Sentinel reports the Maumee Conservancy District reviewed the plans at a recent meeting. The state of Ohio has also set aside $1.2 million for the district. The money is to be used for non-structural flood relief efforts.

The conservancy district has also secured the URS company to put together flood mitigation plans for the Blanchard River in Ottawa.

In the meantime, any properties that could be affected by the altered approach to the Road I-9 bridge are being surveyed. The land is also being appraised so that it can be bought if needed.

MORE: Putnam County Sentinel

Read More →

12/15/14     2:13 p.m.

About a month after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced their tentative flood mitigation plan for the Blanchard River they are continuing community outreach, this time online. The corps has added frequently asked question and community forum sections to the Blanchard River Watershed Study page online, which can be found here.

There are nearly 40 questions already posted and visitors to the site have the option to ask their own. Any questions or comments submitted will go directly to the study team.

In an email to local media outlets, Lt. Col. Karl Jansen said his visit to the area last month gave him a better understanding of the study and its complexity, prompting the expansion of the website. He thanked the Farm Bureau for the invitation to see impacted areas and speak with the farming community as well.

Jansen said the study team is currently finalizing drafts of the feasibility study and environmental impact reports. Those reports will then be reviewed by the corps then released for a 45-day public review. After the release, more public informational meetings will take place in the community.

Read More →

11/14/14     1:58 p.m.

The Army Corps of Engineers presented their tentative plan for flood mitigation today. While some area residents were skeptical, the Corps insisted that discussion was key and plans are still changing.

Click on each image to see a larger version.

All images provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Read More →

11/14/14     1:22 p.m.

Emotions ran high during this morning’s press conference with the Army Corps of Engineers. Having released their tentative flood mitigation plan, the Corps fielded questions and concerns from the public about this plan, but for county commissioner Brian Robertson the important thing was there was two-way dialogue.

Audio: Brian Robertson

Robertson said we need to build off the momentum and plans and get something done, unlike the generation from 1962 who faced with the same problem did not act on the Army Corps plans.

Audio: Brian Robertson

Read More →

11/14/14 – 1:12 P.M.

To say the topic of flood mitigation is a contentious one in the agricultural community could be a bit of an understatement. Several area farmers attended today’s meeting about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s tentative flood mitigation plan. Not too many were convinced it was a good idea…

Audio: Steve Oman

Former Hancock County Commissioner Steve Oman has been a vocal critic of flood mitigation for the Blanchard River. Oman said he doesn’t think the ag community can be convinced there is a plan that can work if it involves taking away farm land.

Gary Wilson is the president of the Hancock County Farm Bureau and says the current plan is a bitter pill to swallow…

Audio: Gary Wilson

Wilson said he is in favor of a dialogue with the Army Corps. He added that recent meetings with Corps members have been helpful in getting some questions answered.

Several area farmers spoke their mind about plans for a diversion channel and levee in Findlay, and the comments were not positive…

Audio: Steve Oman

Oman and others on hand said they had no faith in the government to come up with a solution and be upfront with the public about it.

Read More →

11/14/14 – 1:06 P.M.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took questions and comments about the tentative flood control plan in Findlay today. As the audience learned, the tentative plan is somewhat of a rough draft of the mitigation efforts that could be implemented…

Audio: Karl Jansen

Lt. Col. Karl Jansen says the detailed report will be made public in early 2015. Jansen adds once that’s done, the very important public comment period will begin.

The cost of Blanchard River Flood mitigation won’t be cheap. Jansen said the current estimate to build a diversion channel and levee is around $87 million. However, we’re a long way from the final numbers…

Audio: Karl Jansen

Jansen says we’ll have a better idea of the cost if Congress approves an appropriation for the plan.

Of course, there were several questions and comments about the plan. One big question people asked was how a levee and diversion channel will actually change how the Blanchard handles heavy rain.

Jansen says that’s an answer the Corps has to get better at explaining…

Audio: Karl Jansen

Corps representatives said currently when it rains a lot, it’s like pouring a big bucket of water down a drain. The flood mitigation measures would make it like pouring several cups of water down the same drain. The breaking up of the initial surge would allow water to move downstream before the next surge comes through.

Read More →

11/14/14     12:38 p.m.

For Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, the Army Corps of Engineers press conference on the tentative flood mitigation plan was a productive discussion with residents. She said it’s nice to finally be at the point of discussion, but it’s still going to take more time.

Audio: Lydia Mihalik

Mihalik said at this point, residents have to trust the experts and let the process run its course.

Audio: Lydia Mihalik

The key to this project’s success in the mayor’s eyes is discussion. She said residents asking questions and officials listening and having answering ready will help keep things on the right track.

Read More →