OTTAWA — Since massive floods in 2007, residents along the Blanchard River, including those in Ottawa, have been working on solutions to prevent future major floods. On Wednesday, members of the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Coalition joined representatives from the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District, as well as area legislators, at the Putnam Educational Service Center to celebrate the completion of the first phase of those efforts.
“We wanted to get all the players involved here together to thank them for helping us do this,” District Director Clark Lynn Army said. “It was a group effort. We’re excited to get the residents here some flood relief. It’s not as much as we’d like to do, but at least we’ve got this first phase done.”
Earlier this year, work was completed on lowering the embankment on the Road I-9 bridge, allowing water to pass over the road more easily and continue flowing out of the region, rather than having the embankment act as a barrier, forcing the water to back up into residential areas. Future phases will involve the creation of a diversion channel along the Lower Blanchard River, as well as purchasing flood-prone properties in the Ottawa area.
“We removed over 14,000 cubic feet of dirt,” project engineer Greg Bockrath said. “Nothing was done with the bridge. Only the embankment was lowered.”
Ottawa Mayor Dean Meyer was gratified to see this first step taken to mitigate flooding in his community.
“We’re getting to the place where we’re almost over the hump,” he said. “You can never eliminate all flooding, but you can work to try to not get that big-time flood. This will go a long ways toward that. When this is all said and done, we’ll be much better off than even before the bridge was ever built.”
With plans complete for the diversion channel, the district is hopeful to begin construction on the channel next year, with the project expected to be completed in one season.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.