By DENISE GRANT
Bids for the Blanchard River widening project in Findlay will most likely be sought in August, with final preparations now underway.
Steve Wilson, project manager for the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District, Defiance, said the project will go to bid once water quality permits are issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The permits are required before dredged or fill material may be discharged into the waterway.
The Ohio EPA will hold a public information meeting on water quality, followed by a hearing, at 6 p.m. June 26 in the Lindamood Room of the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library, 206 Broadway.
The full project application and related materials are available online on the Ohio EPA’s website. Search on keywords: Blanchard River.
During the information meeting, the EPA will present details about the proposed project and Ohio’s water quality certification process. During the hearing, the public can submit comments and questions regarding the water quality certification application.
The Blanchard River will be widened by cutting “benches” into the riverbank for about 3,500 feet between the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge and Broad Avenue. The benches are meant to increase the river’s capacity. The project will excavate the benches on the north bank of the river.
Four dams will also be removed from the river channel, with the bank and the channel of the river to be restored after the dams are removed.
According to the Ohio EPA, the project will improve water quality in the river. In order for the permit to be approved, plans must also protect water quality during construction.
The permit application, prepared by the Stantec engineering firm, states that the dams will be replaced with riffle structures. Riffles create fast, turbulent water and improve the water quality for fish, invertebrates and other organisms.
Stantec said the existing dams also interfere with fish migration.
Repeated flooding of the flood plain benches, along with a plan to plant native species in the project area, will eventually create higher-quality wetlands in the area, according to Stantec.
Once complete, the improvements to the river are expected to reduce the height of flooding on Main Street by about 1 foot during a 100-year storm.
Written comments on the application will continue to be accepted by the Ohio EPA through July 3.
Anyone may submit written comments or request to be placed on a mailing list for information by writing to: Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus OH 43216-1049, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.