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Blanchard River Watershed Photos

 Blanchard River flowing through Findlay, Ohio.
 Blanchard River flowing through Findlay, Ohio.
 
 U.S. Geological Survey weather gage on Eagle Creek
 U.S. Geological Survey weather gage on Eagle Creek
 
 
 Public Meeting, Findlay Ohio, December 2012

Blanchard Watershed

Blanchard River Watershed Study

Study Overview

The Blanchard River Watershed Study is authorized by the Water Resources Development Act of 1999, Section 441, Western Lake Erie Basin, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.  Section 441 authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to '...conduct a study to develop measures to improve flood control, navigation, water quality, recreation, and fish and wildlife habitat in a comprehensive manner...'.  This authority supports a General Investigation/Feasibility Study to assess flood risk management needs and opportunities for the restoration of fish and wildlife habitat within the Western Lake Erie Basin Blanchard River Watershed.

The primary study area is defined as the watershed boundaries of the Blanchard River within Putnam, Hancock, Seneca, Allen, Hardin, and Wyandot Counties in the State of Ohio.  The study area will encompass the entire Blanchard River Watershed including upstream areas, which contribute to flooding, and downstream areas to the confluence of the Blanchard River and the Auglaize River. 

The watershed is approximately 771 square miles.  Frequent flooding has impacted the quality of life in the watershed and hindered economic development efforts.  The study will provide a framework to support sustainable development in the watershed.

Contact Information

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District
Toledo Project Office
3906 North Summit Street
Toledo, OH 43611-5003
Telephone: 1-800-833-6390 option: 3
Fax: 4197269121
Email: blanchard@usace.army.mil 

Blanchard River Watershed Study Information

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Measures:

The Feasibility Study will identify and analyze combinations of flood risk management and ecosystem restoration measures in order to develop the best flood risk management plan for each community. A total of 10 measures were identified in the initial screening:

1. Detention storage areas

2. Diversion structures

3. Floodwalls

4. Control structures to prevent overflow

5. Levees

6. Channel Realignment

7. Removal or modification of structural impediments in the floodplain

8. Channel Deepening

9. Continued clearing and snagging of Blanchard River

10. Non-structural measures: retrofitting of residential and commercial buildings to reduce flood damages

 

Frequently Asked Questions

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Updated: December 15, 2014

 

Comments can be submitted via:

Fax: (419) 259-7436

E-mail: blanchard@usace.army.mil

Web: https://bit.ly/BRWStudy

Mail:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District
Toledo Project Office
3906 North Summit Street
Toledo, OH 43611-5003

 

Approval of the TSP is important for two major reasons:

      1. It indicates that the study team continues to prepare for completion of the Chief’s Report by March 2016’

      2. It authorizes the study team to further develop the TSP, and optimize the plan.

If the TSP was not approved, the study team would have to re-work the selected plan.

 

The benefits of the TSP were determined using analyses that are considered standard in hydrology and hydraulic engineering.  While not all potential conditions can be anticipated or analyzed, the assumptions used and conditions evaluated are reasonable for the purpose of benefit calculations. Where actual events deviate significantly from these assumptions, benefits so too would vary.

 

Properties which may be impacted by the proposed project will be identified during the optimization phase of the study which will be performed during 2015 and documented in the Final Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement scheduled to be released to the public at the end of 2015 or early 2016.

 

The study area encompasses the entire Blanchard River Watershed.  The agriculture community comprises much of the 771 square mile watershed.  The Corps of Engineers is seeking a solution that creates a balance between existing land use and flood mitigation measures.

 

There were many factors which were used to locate the diversion channel. Factors considered topography of the land including the existing glacial valley, and general land uses including location of oil wells.  The location identified to date is approximate and the Corps of Engineers will optimize the location of the diversion channel.  Final location of the diversion channel will consider comments received during public and agency review, and hydrology while minimizing impacts to the environment and the community.

 

Mitigation is required for compliance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  Impacts to aquatic resources (wetlands and streams) should be avoided if possible.  President George H. W. Bush established a policy to achieve a “no net loss of wetlands,” and any unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources must be offset such that there is no net loss of the function and value of these resources.

Wetland mitigation will be a mixture of forested/scrub-shrub/ and emergent wetlands in areas adjacent to the Blanchard River.  The stream mitigation would involve adding a flood plain bench to areas along Aurand Run and/or Lye Creek to create a two-stage channel with an associated forested/scrub shrub buffer at the top of bank to improve fish and wildlife habitat.  Wetland and stream mitigation are also anticipated to be a requirement of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

 

This area was identified for potential wetland mitigation because it is adjacent to a proposed Flood Risk Management structure (i.e., earthen berm) and this area is believed to have a high chance of successful wetland restoration/creation.  Two additional areas are being investigated in Ottawa for wetland mitigation as well as several areas in the Aurand Run and Lye Creek Watersheds for mitigation of anticipated stream impacts.

 

The plan defines a study area that will be modified to identify exact locations in the final report.  The purpose of the tentative plan is to identify an alternative which maximizes net benefits, has a positive benefit to cost ratio, and is environmentally and socially acceptable.

Further refinements to the Tentatively Selected Plan are required as more technical information is gained. It is the Corps of Engineers intent to refine the Tentatively Selected Plan through consideration of public comments, or the evaluation of additional information received during optimization.  Public comments are always taken via, mail, e-mail, and the Corps of Engineers web site.

 

Aurand Run was considered as part of the initial array of plans but was screened out as a viable measure due to the environmental impacts.  This determination was the result of interagency coordination meetings between the Corps of Engineers and State environmental agencies in July 2013.  In addition, an initial screening indicated the Aurand Run alignment was more costly than other similar alternatives relative to the benefits it would provide.

 

The diversion channel alignment currently shown is preliminary and will be adjusted as the project continues toward completion of the feasibility report.  The corridor shown gives the estimated maximum amount that the diversion channel could be shifted laterally when the final design is completed and all existing features and conditions are taken into consideration.

Further refinements to the Tentatively Selected Plan are required as more technical information is gained. It is the Corps of Engineers intent to refine the Tentatively Selected Plan through consideration of public comments, or the evaluation of additional information received during optimization.  Public comments are always taken via, mail, e-mail, and the Corps of Engineers web site.

 

There are a number of factors that could affect the diversion channel location.  Some of these are:

  • Minimizing or avoiding rock excavation to reduce project costs.
  • Aligning the diversion channel to take advantage of public road rights of way.
  • Aligning the diversion channel to run near/along parcel boundaries to minimize cutting parcels in two.
  • Avoiding utility lines, and gas and oil wells.
  • Avoiding existing buildings and other structures.
  • Optimizing the diversion alignment for efficient hydraulic flow.

 

The diversion of Eagle Creek flows will minimize the peak flows in the Blanchard River. The analysis is based on the hypothetical 100-year (1% chance in any given year) flood event. This analysis shows a reduction in flood levels by 2-3 feet. The reduction would vary by actual rainfall events.  Specific impacts (parcel by parcel) will be identified during optimization.

 

Currently, the project design calls for a dam at the diversion of Eagle Creek into the diversion channel.  The hydraulic design of the project is being refined which may result in the use of means other than a dam to divert flows into the diversion channel.  This will not be known until the final hydraulic design of the project is completed.

 

Yes, during a flood there will be flows down Eagle Creek. Under normal flow conditions, the diversion channel would be dry. The diversion channel will activate when Eagle Creek reaches capacity.

 

The Corps of Engineers is aware of three threatened or endangered species in the project area, clubshell mussels, rayed bean mussels, and the Indiana bat.  The Corps of Engineers is aware of one other candidate species, northern long-eared bat, and one species, the bald eagle, afforded protection under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.  Measures will be taken to mitigate impacts, if they are present, to include species relocation.

 

No specific historic properties have yet been identified as being affected. However, some study areas have not been examined for cultural resources because Rights of Entries were not obtained by the study team. Only desktop analyses have been completed at this time. Further investigations will be required before impacts to historic properties can be fully evaluated. Information gathered through these investigations will be coordinated with the Ohio State Historic Preservation Officer and subsequent evaluation of specific project components will be utilized to complete Section 106 coordination in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act.

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently analyzing the use of a quarry in Findlay, OH as the disposal area.  Some of the materials from the excavation of the diversion channel may be used to construct berms along the diversion channel where the existing ground surface is too low to retain the water within the channel.

 

The proposed diversion channel is designed with a two-foot freeboard for the 1% annual chance event (i.e. 100-year flood).

 

To provide uniform and equitable treatment for persons whose property is acquired for public use, acquisition must be in accordance with the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act (the Uniform Act).  A licensed appraiser will appraise impacted properties and determine the fair market value of the real estate interest that is required.

 

Just compensation is the price that must be paid to a property owner for the real estate interest that is required for the project.  A licensed appraiser will appraise impacted properties and determine the fair market value of the real estate interest that is required.

 

Properties impacted by the proposed project will be identified during the optimization phase of the project which will be performed during 2015 and documented in the Final Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement scheduled to be released to the public at the end of 2015 or early 2016.

 

Every effort to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement will be attempted.  In the event an agreement cannot be reached, the non-federal sponsor has the authority to consider eminent domain proceedings.

 

All compensation will be determined by a licensed appraiser.  There are various appraisal methods that can be used to determine fair market value and to capture the just compensation that would be involved. The appraiser will determine the approach that is most relevant to a specific parcel and its uses.

 

The current plan does not show any impacts to any cemeteries.

 

Once the final alignment is known and the impacts are fully evaluated, the Corps of Engineer will perform a final non-structural analysis on the impacted areas on a parcel by parcel basis to determine which, if any, structures are eligible.

 

The preliminary inundation area does indicate portions of the Boy Scout Camp may be impacted.  Specific impacts (parcel by parcel) will be identified during optimization.

 

If there is induced flooding as a result of the project, a Physical Takings Analysis will be prepared by an attorney to determine if the amount of the flooding rises to level of a taking; in which just compensation would be owed.   If just compensation is owed, a certified appraiser will determine the fair market value for the type of real estate interest that is required.

 

Every effort to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement will be attempted.  In the event an agreement cannot be reached, the non-federal sponsor has the authority to consider eminent domain proceedings.

 

After a Chief’s Report is signed and transmitted to Congress, future project implementation requires authorization of a construction project in federal statute. In addition, Congress must then appropriate funding for future detailed design and construction of the project. The project will be cost shared 65% Federal and 35% non-Federal.  The non-Federal sponsor is required to provide all the Land, Easements, Rights-Of-Way, Relocation, and Disposal Areas which will count towards the non-Federal sponsor’s 35% cost share.

 

With heavy rain events, precautions should always be taken. If the diversion channel is being utilized; the county and city should be able to notify residents through social media venues and the reverse 911 system.

 

Fences along the diversion channel are not anticipated at this time.  Where there are bridges crossing the diversion channel, sufficient barriers such as guard rails will be provided as necessary to meet current highway safety standards.

 

Yes, traffic will still be able to cross the diversion channel at various locations along the diversion channel.  Some roads will be made into a low crossing, cul-de-sac, or full bank-to-bank bridges.  The bridges will be placed at strategic points so as to minimize the disruption of traffic.

 

A Section 401 Water Quality Certification from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will be required to construct the project. The application will be submitted to the OEPA prior to construction after final design of the project is completed and plans and specifications have been produced.  However, the Corps of Engineers have been meeting with the OEPA on a regular basis to solicit feedback from them regarding the Tentatively Selected Plan and the study team’s work to date.

 

Current implementation costs have been estimated to be $80-90 million.  Further refinements during the optimization phase may result in a change to the project estimated cost recommended for Congressional authorization in the Chief’s Report.  A final estimated implementation cost would not be known until completion of final design after issuance of the Chief’s Report.

The project began as two Section 205 Flood Risk Management studies: one for Findlay, and one for Ottawa.  In 2009, the Corps of Engineers identified the project costs would exceed the program authority limit and converted the two separate studies into one watershed study on the General Investigations authority.  Due to the efforts of local, state, and federal leaders this project has been set on a path for planned completion in March 2016.

 

Information released in December 2012 included four proposed alternatives for Findlay, Ohio and four alternatives for Ottawa, Ohio.  Since the public meeting in December 2012, the Corps of Engineer engineering team has completed a quality assurance review on the hydrology and hydraulics model.  Based on the refined model, alternatives were screened and evaluated to identify the tentatively selected plan.

 

The village of Ottawa has decided to pursue their portion of the flood study on their own.  The Corps of Engineers will provide the village of Ottawa technical information related to the Hydrologic and Hydraulic analysis.  In addition, the village will be provided a report documenting the alternatives and the outcomes of the analyses.

 

Yes. While this study continues to move forward, there is still a possibility that the Chief’s Report will not be complete by March 2016.  Generally, this is due to additional information which may be received that would require further investigation requiring extension of the study period.

 

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