Public meetings scheduled on Blanchard River Watershed study

(Toledo News Now) - Several public meetings are scheduled to discuss proposed alternative plans for the Blanchard River Watershed.

Findlay was left under water after a massive flood hit the city back in 2007. Now the Army Corps of Engineers says it has five different plans in Findlay and another four plans in Ottawa to prevent homes and businesses from future flooding.

The Blanchard River Watershed study team will be available to answer questions and discuss the Blanchard River flood plan at the public meetings.

The meetings are scheduled as follows:

-Dec. 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Ottawa-Glandorf High School auditorium located at 630 Glendale Avenue in Ottawa.

-Dec. 11 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Putnam County Educational Service Center located at 124 Putnam Parkway in Ottawa.

-Dec. 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Findlay High School auditorium located at 1200 Broad Avenue in Findlay.

-Dec. 12 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Hancock County Agricultural Center located at 7868 County Road 140 in Findlay.

Water levels have always been a point of concern for people living in the flood plain, but now the Army Corps of Engineers has several plans to help ease flooding fears.

Engineers will present nine different plans to the public, but only one will be chosen for both Ottawa and Findlay. Some solutions include building retention ponds, purchasing homes and businesses in the flood plain and creating channels to decrease the amount of water feeding into the river.

"Those water levels add on each other, so if we can take away one of those peaks and put it somewhere else, it lowers the level of the river," explained Mike Pniewski with Army Corps of Engineers.

These plans were five years in the making. It will cost between $120 million and $150 million to build. The federal government will pay 65 percent and the county will have to come up with the remaining 35 percent. The county did receive a $3 million state grant for flood mitigation.

As efficient as these plans are, engineers say they cannot fight Mother Nature.

"Findlay and Ottawa will still flood, it just won't flood as frequently or as severe as it has in the past," said Pniewski.

Some people living in the flood plain said the option of selling their property to the county is appealing.

"For people that can't afford or can't renovate after a flood, yeah, it's a good idea to get them out of the flood zone," said resident Amy Hickle. "At least they're being offered an out."

Engineers hope to have a plan selected within the next six months. Then, after securing funding, they can submit a finalized plan to congress in 2015.

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