By DENISE GRANT
The Maumee Watershed Conservancy District, Defiance, on Tuesday awarded a contract to a Findlay construction company for flood-control improvements to the Blanchard River in Findlay. The district also announced it would stop spending on the more controversial floodwater storage basins proposed by the Stantec engineering firm.
The board voted to award the river improvement contract to Helms Construction, Findlay. Helms’ bid was about $6.1 million, far less than the $10 million estimate given by project engineers.
Helms was one of six bidders on the project. The highest bid received last week was $9.2 million.
The Blanchard River will be widened in Findlay 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.
Work is expected to begin this year, and be completed by September 2019.
Once complete, the improvements to the river in Findlay are expected to reduce the height of flooding on Main Street by about 1 foot during a 100-year storm.
Almost all of the property to be excavated belongs to the City of Findlay. Only one private property owner will be affected by the benching work.
When complete, the project is expected to remove about 600 parcels from the flood plain in Findlay and make travel easier during a flood.
The public will be able to monitor progress on the project online at: www.hancockcountyflooding.com.
The Stantec engineering firm was advised by the conservancy district to stop work on phase two of its proposed flood control improvements because the conservancy district is no longer willing to pay for the work.
Stantec has proposed three large floodwater storage basins, which would be constructed along Eagle Creek, along the Blanchard River at Mount Blanchard, and along a tributary known as Potato Creek.
However, conservancy district members said Tuesday that the “public outcry” against Stantec’s proposed basins means those basins probably “will never happen.”
District officials said it will be up to Findlay and Hancock County leadership to decide what type of flood-control measures to pursue beyond the benching work at Findlay, and whether the conservancy district can assist with those plans.