Army Corps: No list of study expenses without complicated coding

The Buffalo District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it doesn’t have a list of expenditures for the Blanchard River flood study that does not use complicated coding.

In a letter received by The Courier today, the district said a search of its documents and computer files “indicates there are no records responsive to your request currently maintained in the district.”

Through a Freedom of Information Act request made by The Courier in April, the newspaper requested a copy of the budget for the $9 million study that clearly explains each expenditure, without the use of coding.

In July 2013, the newspaper requested an itemized list of expenditures for the Blanchard River Flood Risk Management Project. At that time, about $6 million had already been spent on the study. The total cost is expected to reach $9 million by 2016 when the study is completed. The corps and the Hancock County commissioners are splitting the cost of the study.

In January, the corps responded with two documents, totaling 64 pages, itemizing those expenditures. After careful review, the newspaper determined it was impossible to report on the budget accurately and thoroughly due to the use of coding throughout the documents.

Andrew A. Kornacki, a district public affairs specialist, has offered to work with the newspaper with questions about the document. To start, the newspaper has asked for a complete list of expenditures, without duplications.

The budget also includes several pages of travel expenses. The newspaper has asked Kornacki and his team to tally travel expenses for the study, and to identify who is traveling and where.

There has still be no response from the corps on a Freedom of Information Act request made by the newspaper on June 11 for copies of all public input gathered by the corps on the flood study.

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.

Officials from the corps said that public input would be a consideration in the study.

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

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