Army officials: We’re sticking to flood study schedule

Officials from the Army Corps of Engineers were in Findlay Monday to offer reassurance that the Blanchard River flood study will stick to the schedule announced in April.

Hancock County Commissioner Phillip Riegle spoke briefly about the meeting today.

Lt. Col. Karl D. Jansen met with Riegle; Paul Schmelzer, Findlay’s safety-service director; and Steve Wilson, project manager for the Hancock County Engineer’s Office.

In April, the corps said the study will be completed in 2016, an extension of about 18 months from initial finish dates.

“They said they are committed to keeping the study on schedule or maybe moving it ahead,” said Riegle.

He said the meeting was short and no details on the plan were discussed.

During public meetings in December 2012, the corps said its potential ideas included a western diversion channel around Findlay. Other ideas included having a large water-detention area near the Boy Scout camp south of Findlay, and building a levee to stop the flooding Blanchard River from overflowing into Lye Creek south of the Findlay reservoirs.

However, the levee would cause the flood level to increase in three eastern Findlay neighborhoods by about 2.5 inches, the corps said.

Corps plans in Ottawa involved modifying the I-9 bridge embankment, and creating a diversion channel there.

In all, the corps’ flood study will cost about $9 million to complete, with the corps and the Hancock County commissioners splitting the bill.

Cost estimates for potential flood-control projects have ranged from $111 million to $200 million.

On June 11 of this year, The Courier requested access to all public input gathered by the corps on the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Project. There has been no response.

The corps has ignored The Courier’s request for an explanation of the cost breakdown of the $9 million flood study.

Earlier this year, the corps did release 62 pages of budget figures to The Courier in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. It took the corps several months to respond to the newspaper’s initial request.

The budget uses several codes, making it impossible to analyze without further information.

In April, The Courier requested that the corps explain the codes in a manner that would allow for accurate reporting to the public. There has been no response.

Courier Reporter Denise Grant is developing this story.

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