OTTAWA — 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 upon.

“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.”

Pniewski 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 property value.

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.

Ottawa resident Attorney Clyde Schroeder asked how much of the information gathered by USACE up to the current date is directly transferable to the MWCD.

OVERSET FOLLOWS:Phillips 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 information.

“If they hire the engineering firm that did the work for us, then no verification will be necessary,” said Pniewski.

According 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.

story created on Wednesday 8/13/2014 at 10:10:19 am by Anne Coburn-Griffis
story modified on Tuesday 8/19/2014 at 5:52:32 pm by Kirk Dougal