By DENISE GRANT
DEFIANCE — Better data, better models, and taking a second look at the plans haven’t resulted in big changes to Stantec engineering’s recommendation for flood-control options for the Blanchard River.
However, the footprints of the basins on Eagle Creek and near Mount Blanchard have been reduced.
The firm’s 100-page draft report was released to the public Tuesday following a meeting of the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District board in Defiance.
The full report has been posted at www.hancockcountyflooding.com.
Based on information now available, including more accurate rainfall models and aerial topographic studies, Stantec said three large floodwater storage basins, which would be constructed along Eagle Creek, the Blanchard River at Mount Blanchard, and a tributary known as Potato Creek, are still the best solutions.
The draft report also shows several alternatives considered by Stantec, and breaks down the impact of each. It also shows the benefit of building the recommended basins, either independently or in combination, with planned river channel improvements in Findlay.
The data is broken down, road by road, in the report’s “transportation benefits/impacts” summary.
The entire flood-control project, including improvements to the river channel and the basins, would cost an estimated $153.8 million, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of 2.94. The benefit-to-cost ratio means that for every $1 spent on the project, there would be a benefit of $2.94.
In September 2017, the Hancock County commissioners agreed to pay $375,000 to have Stantec review its proposed flood-control recommendations, after rural landowners protested.
In the new report, Stantec said it addressed “the concerns of the community by reducing the footprints of the proposed storage facilities to reduce the impacts of construction. With the reduction of impacts also came the reduction in anticipated benefits from the proposed storage basins, particularly at the Blanchard River storage site.”
For the Eagle Creek storage basin, the western edge of the basin would now be County Road 76, a north-south road, instead of Township Road 67.
The smaller basin would affect fewer acres and require fewer buyouts of structures.
Construction would affect 936 acres, including 675 agricultural acres. The original plan would have affected 1,140 acres, including 880 agricultural acres.
The new plan calls for the buyout of six structures, instead of the original 14.
Total cost of this basin is now estimated at $65.4 million, down from $69.5 million in the original plan.
The smaller storage site on the Blanchard River near Mount Blanchard would also impact less land and mean only three buyouts of structures. Stantec’s original proposal identified eight structural buyouts.
Under the first design, construction of the Blanchard River basin would impact 585 acres of farmland. The smaller design would impact 410 acres.
The basin would now cost about $100,000 less to construct.
The smaller basins would mean higher floodwater, often several inches more than originally proposed, on Findlay roadways during a 100-year flood, including the East Sandusky Street bridge, Hancock County 205, Ohio 568, South Blanchard Street at East High Street, East Main Cross Street at Martin Luther King Way, Main Street, Defiance Avenue at the University of Findlay townhouses, and Hancock County 223 at U.S. 224.
Steve Wilson, the conservancy’s project manager, said even with construction of the entire $154 million project, Findlay would still have about 35 structures that would be heavily flooded during a 100-year storm, with water up to the first floor.
And several main roadways would still be impacted by floodwater, including Martin Luther King Way, Sandusky Street at Lye Creek, U.S. 224 at Hancock County 223, and Ohio 37 at Potato Run. Lifting them all above flood level would cost an estimated $8.85 million.
Wilson said the Stantec review will remain in draft form until officials can review it and have any questions addressed by Stantec.
He said the additional information will help the community decide which options, if any, should be pursued.
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