— On Aug. 13, two days after the Village of Ottawa council members
passed a resolution requesting the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District
(MWCD) to assume the leadership and governance of a proposed flood
reduction project for the Lower Blanchard River Watershed, the Blanchard
River Flood Mitigation Coalition (BRFMC) formally asked the MWCD to
take the reigns.
All other updates provided during the monthly
meeting of the BRFMC were overshadowed by the request. But the change in
governance is not set in stone. First, the MWCD must vote to take over
the project. Next, an engineering firm must be selected to do the work.
The MWCD Board of Directors will meet on Aug. 20 to decide if they will
accept the project.
The Lower Blanchard project includes
alteration to the approach to the Road I-9 Bridge in Ottawa Township as
well as diversion channel.
Mike Pniewski, project manager for the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Buffalo District, confirmed that
the USACE has the raw data necessary for the selected engineer to act
“We just have to package it. We are going to prepare an
executive summary. In the next few months we’ll prepare a formal closure
report. We’re not going to provide any benefits anymore. Benefits are
determined by the Conservancy District. You’re not going with the
federal project, so federal cost benefits are irrelevant.”
said the summary will cover the plan, what the USACE did to come up
with the plan, including water service elevation reductions, and
estimated costs. He said that the MWCD can consider more cost benefits
compared to the limited number available to the Army Corps. For
instance, federal benefits only include benefits as a reduction in
structural damages. State benefits can take into account reductions in
Lynn Army, district manager of the MWCD, confirmed
that his subdivision of the State of Ohio can take into account cost of
safety services, such the expense of road closures.
resident Attorney Clyde Schroeder asked how much of the information
gathered by USACE up to the current date is directly transferable to the
and Pniewski responded that the majority of what has been done is
relevant data that can be transferred to a new engineering firm.
Schroeder asked if that engineering firm will need to verify the
“If they hire the engineering firm that did the work for us, then no verification will be necessary,” said Pniewski.
to Jason Phillips, Ottawa’s Assistant Municipal Director, if the MWCD
Board of Directors’ decision is yes, ground-breaking is probable in
calendar year 2015.
“We’re going to try to move at lightning
speed, but the bureaucratic process is such that we’re going to have to
keep pushing,” said BRFMC secretary Deb Bauer.
“It is still
government,” added Phillips. “We’ve learned a lot working with the Army
Corps on the federal government side. Now we get to expedite things with
the state government.”
Phillips intends to have a timeline
developed by the September BRFMC meeting. That meeting is scheduled for 8
a.m. on Sept. 10 at the Putnam County ESC.