By DENISE GRANT
The decision on whether construction of the proposed $60 million Eagle Creek flood basin will proceed has been postponed at least until Sept. 25.
The Maumee Watershed Conservancy District Court, which oversees the 15-county district, has delayed its annual spring meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting will now be held at 10 a.m. Sept. 25. It had been scheduled for May 1.
Steve Wilson, project manager for the conservancy district, said no changes have been made to the court’s agenda at this time.
The conservancy district board is still expected to seek permission from the court to include the basin in its scope of work.
The court, which meets once a year, includes common pleas court judges from all 15 counties served by the conservancy district. It must approve any new projects within the conservancy district before work can proceed.
The conservancy district serves Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Lucas, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam, Shelby, Van Wert, Williams and Wood counties.
Common Pleas Judge Reginald Routson represents Hancock County on the conservancy court.
The basin, which is expected to range in size from 600 to 800 acres, will be dry most of the time. However, during a flood, it could hold enough stormwater to drop floodwater 1.5 feet on Main Street in Findlay during a 100-year storm, like the flood of August 2007.
Eagle Creek, as it heads toward Findlay, would stay mostly within its banks.
The conservancy already owns about 417 acres in Hancock County’s Eagle Township, which it considers central to the construction of a proposed floodwater storage basin. The land was purchased early this year, and is about half of the land needed for the basin.
Once constructed, it will cost about $100,000 annually to operate and maintain the basin. Upkeep would include mowing, debris removal, maintenance of the basin’s outlet and emergency spillway, and maintenance of public access locations.
So far, there is no recommendation on how that expense should be addressed in the future.
The project has already received a $15 million state grant, which is being used to pay initial costs, including land purchases. Another $45 million is being sought.
Ohio’s new two-year capital budget was due out this spring, but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial strain of the pandemic on the state’s budget could derail the funding.