Putnam County officials are considering pulling out of the Blanchard River flood study due to frustrations in working with the Army Corps of Engineers.
On Monday, a source close to the situation called it a “distinct possibility.”
Over the years, the design of the I-9 bridge in Ottawa has been blamed for increasing the severity of flooding in the village.
The corps has been asked to provide “statistical hard data” showing how the bridge affects flooding, but so far, the request has been ignored, according to the source.
“It seems no one at the corps wants to show their hand in this issue,” said the source. “We wonder why the corps has been so secretive in this matter.”
Because of the lack of data about the bridge and flooding, the Putnam County commissioners have yet to agree that the bridge needs to be altered.
“The Village of Ottawa wants to take immediate action on this matter, and wants the county’s endorsement, but county officials and seemingly the Ottawa Township trustees want evidence prior to the endorsement,” said the source. “Obviously, the floodwater dilemma is larger than the Village of Ottawa. County officials do not want to make matters worse.”
If Putnam County drops out of the flood study, it could then seek its own flood-control project with the corps, with a goal of getting work done sooner than 2016, when the study is expected to be done.
“Many folks around here, involved in the flood mitigation, feel they can’t wait,” the source said.
So far, Putnam County has contributed no money to pay for the study, which is expected to cost about $9 million to complete. Hancock County and the federal government have split the bill.
Courier reporter Denise Grant will have more on Tuesday.