Staff Writer

DEFIANCE — The three-member board of directors for the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District, Defiance, voted unanimously Tuesday to pursue construction of a floodwater basin in Hancock County’s Eagle Township.

The vote was taken during the regular meeting of the conservancy district board.

The decision will allow for preliminary engineering of the basin to move forward in order to gather information needed to present to the conservancy district court at its annual meeting in May. It will then be up to the court to decide whether the basin should be included in the conservancy district’s work plans.

Steve Wilson, project manager, said Stantec engineering has identified 16 possible configurations for the floodwater basin, ranging in price from $71 million to $402 million. Officials say the goal is to seek state grant money to pay for construction. The project has already received a $15 million state grant, which is being used to pay initial costs.

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, the basin could hold enough storm water to drop floodwater 1.5 feet on Main Street, Findlay, during a 100-year storm, like the flood of August 2007.

Wilson said the basin “dramatically reduces” the flood basin along Eagle Creek as it heads toward Findlay.

Between two and five residences would be purchased by the conservancy district and demolished to make way for the basin’s construction. Acquiring the land and structures is expected to cost about $25.4 million. Conservancy officials have said the property owners are willing to sell, but have not yet identified the properties publicly.

Another $4.3 million would be needed for road and bridge modifications in the area. Eagle Township Road 49 most likely will be entirely vacated, and replaced with a new roadway configuration for area residents, including the Springlake Subdivision. Residents regularly use the road to access the subdivision.

Once constructed, Wilson said 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 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.

Separately, the conservancy district has settled land right claims with two Putnam County property owners for construction of a diversion channel at Ottawa, to reduce flooding along the Blanchard River there. That project has been tied up in litigation since the fall of 2016.

The conservancy district board agreed Tuesday to seek bids on the $5 million, 4,000-foot diversion channel, planned for the northwestern side of Ottawa. Nearly 200,000 cubic yards of dirt will be removed during the construction of the channel.

The diversion channel is expected to lower floodwater in downtown Ottawa by 6 inches during a 100-year flood.

Grant: 419-427-8412

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