Heavy equipment removes logs cleared to facilitate diversion channel progress. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)
Heavy equipment removes logs cleared to facilitate diversion channel progress. (Putnam Sentinel/Steven Coburn-Griffis)

OTTAWA — Initial work on a diversion channel designed to mitigate flooding in the Village of Ottawa is underway.

In late May and early June, contractors began construction of a stone roadway back to the site. Although mid-June rains slowed that work, Steve Wilson, project manager with the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District, said the first phase of the project began last week.

“They started work on a headwall at the east end of the project where the water will enter the diversion channel,” Wilson said, adding workers are now reinforcing that headwall with steel.

Once that work is completed, excavation of the channel itself will begin in earnest some time next week. According to Wilson, the diversion channel will measure 60 feet wide, 20 feet deep, and run for nearly a mile, connecting two curves in an oxbow on the Blanchard River. In addition, a storage basin/wetland area will be constructed encompassing between 600 and 800 acres. Between the two aspects of the multi-million dollar project, roughly 200,000 cubic yards of dirt — the equivalent of skimming the top 12 inches of soil from 125 acres of land — will be removed from the floodplain. And all of that dirt will go to a single site.

The contractor and the adjoining property owner have made arrangements for the dirt to be placed on a 40 acre site next to the diversion channel,” Wilson said. “The area is outside the flood plain so it’s not going to create an issue with flooding.”

While adjacent to the channel, the site slated to take the excavated dirt also abuts a subdivision in Glandorf. Even so, Wilson said property owners there should not be affected by the dirts placement.

“(The individual taking the dirt) had to prepare a grading plan that showed the placement of the material would not create a drainage issue for adjacent property owners,” Wilson said, adding a swale designed to carry run off away from the area’s homes is part of current plans.

As for the ultimate dispensation of a veritable mountain of dirt, Wilson said that is up to the property owner.

“Really what happens with the dirt in the future is up to the property owner,” he said. “If he decides to sell it, or if he decides to try and farm it, it’s really up to him. One would hope that proper supervision of the project is taking place and it won’t end up in the flood plain.”

Barring any unforseen weather, Wilson believes the project will be completed by September or early October.