Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Rep. Bob Latta (OH-5) sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Maj. Gen. Michael Walsh asking the Corps to prioritize efforts to enact a permanent flood control solution on the Blanchard River. The Blanchard River Flood Reduction Project (BRFRP) would protect the communities and businesses in northwest Ohio most at risk for flood damage.
"The Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Project is vitally important to residents of Hancock and Putnam Counties. These communities have demonstrated a strong financial commitment to the project and the Army Corps of Engineers needs to work quickly and thoroughly to advance this vitally important project," Brown said. "I am glad to join Sen. Portman and Rep. Latta in calling on the Corps today to accelerate its timetable for completing a permanent flood control solution for the Blanchard River."
The senators and congressman are requesting that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to make this project a priority and applaud private sector and community partners working closely on this issue who have already raised nearly $6.2 million toward the completion of the BRFRP. "This project is crucial for the region's future economic vitality and we ask that you continue to prioritize the completion of the feasibility study and the delivery of the Chief's Report to Congress," the letter states.
The Blanchard River has repeatedly spilled over its banks, causing severe flooding in the City of Findlay and the Village of Ottawa. In 2007, the area suffered its most damaging flood event in nearly 100 years, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate and halting operations at Marathon, Cooper Tire and other area businesses. The flood caused $50 million in damages in Findlay and $20 million in damages in Ottawa.
A digital signed copy of the letter can be found here. The full text is below.
Major General Michael J. Walsh
Deputy Commanding General
Civil and Emergency Operations
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
441 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20314-1000
Dear General Walsh:
We are writing to thank you for your continued attention to the Blanchard River Flood Reduction Project (BRFRP), and for your efforts to complete the project's feasibility study in a timely fashion. This project is crucial for the region's future economic viability and we ask that you continue to prioritize the completion of the feasibility study and the delivery of the Chief's Report to Congress.
The City of Findlay and the Village of Ottawa experienced their most significant flood event in nearly 100 years after heavy rains hit the area in August 2007. The August 2007 flood, in addition to significant floods before and since, underscore the critical need for a permanent flood control solution on the Blanchard River.
Since 2007, the City of Findlay and the Village of Ottawa, along with private sector and community partners, have worked closely with the Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District to permanently address the communities' flood reduction challenges. In fact, to assist in funding a solution, the local community passed a sales tax and income tax assessment. To date, these sources have generated approximately $6.2 million to support flood mitigation activities.
As you may be aware, the BRFRP is fully funded for fiscal year 2012 and recently had its Feasibility Scoping Meeting at the Corps' Great Lakes and Ohio River Division office , and is poised to make significant progress on the Alternative Formulation Briefing. Looking ahead to 2013, the local stakeholders' goal, and ours, is a Chief's Report, a prerequisite for the construction of a permanent flood mitigation project.
We were encouraged to learn you are leading the Civil Works Transformation Initiative to make the Corps' feasibility study process more practical and responsive through a new "3 x 3 x 3" revised planning process. Further, we understand that the Buffalo District and Great Lakes and Ohio River i Division have indicated that they will apply the 3 x 3 x 3 process to the BRFRP. Local stakeholders are excited about this opportunity, and are hopeful it will result in an accelerated schedule for the Chief's Report, which currently scheduled to be completed sometime in 2015.
We applaud your leadership of this important modernization effort, and look forward to working with you to ensure that the project is completed in a timely manner. If we can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.