It will take many more years and much more money than Hancock County has in the bank to continue to reduce future flood damage in the Blanchard River watershed. But that shouldn’t deter us from pushing onward.
While flood-control projects may not involve rocket science, they can be time-consuming and extremely costly just to study, let alone build. The community first learned that when the Army Corps of Engineers told us we should construct a 9.4-mile diversion channel to connect Eagle Creek, south of Findlay, to the Blanchard River, west of Findlay.
Fortunately, that project got pulled from the preferred project list because experts determined it wouldn’t give us enough relief from flooding for the estimated $80 million-plus price tag.
Flash forward to yesterday, and the announcement that the Maumee Watershed Conservancy District has agreed to take on a plan to construct a floodwater storage basin west of Eagle Creek in Eagle Township. That project could cost $60 million.
We like the idea, which has flown mostly under the radar while being discussed by several different stakeholder groups. Suddenly, it seems likely to advance with a handful of property owners apparently ready to sell the land that will be needed for the basin.
With the conservancy district now on board, we trust the public will be kept better apprised of the developments moving forward.
The idea of building one smaller, but deeper, storage basin, instead of the three previously proposed ones south of Findlay to catch excess water from the Blanchard River and Eagle Creek, should appease those who opposed the original three-basin plan.
Hancock County will have about $11 million of flood mitigation money left in the bank after paying the bill for the current benching project on the Blanchard River just west of downtown Findlay, and about $2 million less than that if additional benching is done upstream from the first bench site.
A $15 million state grant already has been awarded for preliminary engineering for the Eagle Creek basin project and more could come for design and construction should the conservancy district give the project the go-ahead. While the basin would likely take many months, if not years, to become a reality, it may be worth the effort and cost in the long run.
No one project will be enough when it comes to flood control on the Blanchard River. But there are indications that the recent flooding would have been worse had we not started the first benching project and bought out 150 of our most flood-prone properties over the past decade.
Certainly, there’s no harm in eyeing the next project, and the one after that, even before the first benching project is done. We must keep moving as long as there’s rain in the forecast.