MWCD preparing watershed projects for 2009

March 26, 2009

A list of projects that benefit residents throughout the Muskingum River Watershed is being finalized for implementation in 2009 by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD).

MWCD officials said they are cooperating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for maintenance and rehabilitation projects for the system of flood-reduction dams and reservoirs in the watershed, as well as receiving requests to partner with other agencies and communities in programs to reduce flooding and improve water conservation.

"These projects that we have been carefully reviewing are located in both upstream and downstream regions of the watershed," said John M. Hoopingarner, MWCD executive director/secretary. "This is a watershed-based plan that recognizes that benefits are created throughout the watershed by these maintenance and rehabilitation programs that help protect people and property from flooding and improve water conservation."

Boris E. Slogar, MWCD chief engineer, told members of the MWCD Board of Directors during a recent meeting in New Philadelphia that the MWCD plans to participate with the USACE for a multi-year maintenance and rehabilitation project at Dover Dam, is working with officials on an early flood warning system in the southern portion of the watershed and planning to address shoreline issues at Pleasant Hill Reservoir. MWCD planners also have been meeting with officials from various levels of government and others who are seeking assistance from the MWCD, and the conservancy district will seek input from an advisory group to assist with future planning, Slogar said.

The USACE has said it plans to award a contract in the fall of 2010 for an estimated $101 million rehabilitation project at Dover Dam in northern Tuscarawas County. The MWCD, the committed non-federal local cost-share sponsor for the project, is working with the USACE to determine what its costs will be for the project in 2009 and succeeding years, Slogar said. Maintenance projects at other dams in the system also will be getting under way in upcoming months and years, he added.

"One very important project we are looking into for this year is the implementation of an early flood warning system in the Washington County and Duck Creek watershed region," Slogar said. "The officials in that region are busy determining what shape this project will take, and we are participating in the planning process."

Slogar said that most government agencies and entities contacting the MWCD about participation in regional programs in the watershed have two primary interests - reducing sedimentation and floodplain management through proposed mitigation projects.

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state of Ohio, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, leading to the construction of 14 reservoirs and dams several years later. The MWCD is a partner with the USACE in the operation of the system of dams and reservoirs in the watershed, as the USACE operates the dams and the MWCD manages most of the reservoir areas behind the dams.

Since their construction, the dams and reservoirs have prevented more than $7 billion worth of property damage from flooding, according to the USACE.

The USACE has said that it could spend up to $621 million on maintenance and rehabilitation at four dams - Beach City, Bolivar, Dover and Mohawk - and Zoar levee to address safety concerns over the next several years. Federal law requires a non-federal local sponsor to pay a portion of the costs on these projects. The MWCD will serve as the local sponsor for the projects, with its share of the total cost ranging from an estimated $93.2 million to $123.1 million. The MWCD will pay for its share - along with other identified maintenance projects at the reservoirs and in the watershed - through an assessment of property owners in the watershed pursuant to Ohio law, for which collection began this year.

Nearly 500,000 parcels of property are subject to the assessment, which is projected to generate about $10.3 million annually, with nearly 94 percent of all property owners paying the minimum assessment of $12 per year. The assessments are collected as part of a property owner's real estate tax statements prepared by county auditors and treasurers.

Property owners with assessments of greater than $12 annually and who implement programs that enhance water quality and conservation are eligible to apply for a financial credit that can reduce their yearly assessment by up to 30 percent. Slogar said about 20 applications have been filed and the deadline is March 31 for credit applications in 2009.

The 18 counties wholly or partially contained in the MWCD jurisdiction are Ashland, Belmont, Carroll, Coshocton, Guernsey, Holmes, Harrison, Knox, Licking, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Richland, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas, Wayne and Washington.

More information about the MWCD is available at www.mwcd.org. Information about individual assessments can be discussed with MWCD staff members by calling toll-free (866) 755-6923.

CONTACT:
Darrin Lautenschleger
Public Information Administrator
Toll-free: (877) 363-8500

 

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