As expected, the Maumee Watershed Conservancy Court, in Defiance, approved plans Friday to reduce Blanchard River flooding.
That’s a development worth celebrating, considering how long Hancock County has been waiting for a flood-control project to move beyond study. To be exact, it’s been three months short of 10 years.
If we’ve learned anything, over time, it’s that we can’t take anything for granted when it comes to flood control. Remember when it was suggested the community was on a “fast track” to getting something done? That was 2008.
But finally, a decision has been made that puts the community on a path to a project where dirt actually will be moved. All 10 judges who showed up for Friday’s meeting in Defiance agreed: It is time to move forward.
The plan is simple enough that some may wonder why it didn’t happen long ago. By removing a section of the Blanchard River bank between the Norfolk Southern railroad bridge and Broad Avenue, and giving the river more room to flow beneath the bridge, and removing or modifying low dams, engineers have estimated the flood level in downtown Findlay will be reduced by nearly 1 foot during a 100-year flood.
That won’t eliminate all flood risks, of course, but it will take 760 properties out of the flood plain. We’ll take that for starters. It will also make a significant difference in smaller flood events, like the one this week. That, too, spells stress relief.
The plan still is subject to more engineering, funding details, and may take two to three years to complete even if everything falls into place. No one should assume there won’t be hiccups before the widening job is behind us.
The news, though, couldn’t have come at a better time. As the judges voted in Defiance, Hancock County was sweating out another rainstorm, as if we needed another reminder that flooding comes with the territory.
But later Friday, the worst appeared to be over and the National Weather Service projected flooding along the Blanchard River would likely remain in the minor stage, moderate at worst. That, too, is grounds for celebration.
Those who live and work in the Blanchard River watershed will always have to pause when heavy rains are forecast, but at least now we’re doing something more than just worrying about it.
A small victory, perhaps. But an important one.
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