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Month: June 2023

MWCD joins Operation Dry Water to increase awareness of the dangers associated with boating under the influence

New Philadelphia, OH (June 29, 2023) — In an effort to educate recreational boaters nationwide about the dangers of boating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) will be participating in the annual Operation Dry Water campaign. The mission of Operation Dry Water is to decrease the number of alcohol- and drug-related incidents and fatalities on the water.

Operation Dry Water weekend, July 1-3, is the national weekend dedicated to amplified recreational boater outreach, education, and coordinated enforcement surrounding boating under the influence. Alcohol use continues to be the leading known contributing factor in recreational boater deaths and a leading contributor in boating incidents.[1] The MWCD encourages all boaters to enjoy this boating season and help keep everyone safe by choosing to boat sober all year long. Use of both legal and illegal drugs also impairs judgment and reaction time and creates dangerous circumstances while on the water.

“Individuals and families from across the country head to our nation’s waterways for a fun, safe, and pleasant experience out on the water. Our goal is to not only educate boaters on the dangers of impaired boating, but also to remind them of other safe boating practices, such as enrolling in a boater education course and always wearing a life jacket,” says Patrick Brockmeier, MWCD Chief Ranger.  “To ensure that everyone is safe out on the water, we have partnered with Operation Dry Water to assist in educating operators and passengers on the dangers associated with boating under the influence. The MWCD wants boaters to have a safe and enjoyable summer while out on the water, and to do that boat operators and passengers must remain sober and alert while underway.”

As part of Operation Dry Water weekend, recreational boating safety advocates and volunteers, in collaboration with law enforcement in every U.S. state and territory, will be out at marinas and on the water educating boaters about safe boating practices. Law enforcement will also be working to identify and remove dangerous and impaired operators. In 2022, law enforcement officers across the nation removed 794 impaired operators from our nation’s waterways during the Operation Dry Water weekend.

MWCD supports these educational and enforcement efforts prior to the 4th of July holiday to ensure the safety of recreational boaters and water sport enthusiasts. The risk of serious injury is the same for operators and passengers when drinking. Additionally, alcohol use by passengers presents a danger regardless of whether the operator is consuming alcohol or not.2

Boaters can learn more about boating under the influence by visiting Operation Dry Water is coordinated nationally by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard.


1 2021 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics

2 2019 Boating Under the Influence (BUI) Research Report

About Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District

The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Watershed, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the 16 reservoirs and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving over $7 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government, as well as providing popular recreational opportunities that bolster the region’s economy garnering more than 5 million visitors annually. A significant portion of the reservoirs are managed by the MWCD and the dams are managed for flood-risk management by the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). For more information about the MWCD, visit and follow the MWCD on Facebook and Twitter.

Maintenance Assessment Update for Guernsey Co. Taxpayers

Due to an administrative error by Woolpert, many Guernsey County residents were overcharged for the 2023 Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District’s (MWCD) annual assessment on first half tax bills. 

Woolpert, Inc. (the contractor for the MWCD), sent a corrected billing file to the Guernsey County Auditor’s Office in late February 2023 after the errors were found. The Auditor’s office staff worked diligently to manually correct all the parcels that were not paid in full. Second half tax bills will be correct.  

If you believe that your MWCD Maintenance Assessment is still incorrectplease contact Woolpert Project Manager, Yaneev Golmbek by phone at 1-720-279-3772 or by email at [email protected].

Woolpert is currently providing refund checks to the property owners who paid their tax bills in full and were overcharged. Property owners are asked to cash refund checks within sixty (60) days. 

Woolpert Refund Letter

Guernsey County Auditor’s Website 

Guernsey County Assessment Refund List

Muskingum Watershed Conservancy Court Appoints New Member to the Board of Directors


Photograph 1: Colonel Jayson Putnam, USACE Huntington District Commander, Joanne Limbach, Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director 

Photograph 2: Jennifer Ponchak


New Philadelphia, OH (June 8, 2023) — A quorum of judges attending a Conservancy Court session of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) have appointed Jennifer Ponchak from Morgan County to fill a vacancy on the five member MWCD Board of Directors. Ponchak was appointed to a five-year term on the Board of Directors during the Court’s session held Friday, June 2, in the Tuscarawas County Courthouse at New Philadelphia. She fills the seat held by Joanne Limbach who served on the MWCD board for a total of 20 years.

“I congratulate Jennifer on her appointment to the Board of Directors,” said Craig Butler, MWCD Executive Director.  “Jennifer’s background will prove to be helpful as we continue to enhance our conservation and flood mitigation efforts, so I look forward to working with her in the future.”

Ponchak is the founder of Follow the River Environmental, a specialty company that performs clearing and grubbing, erosion control, seeding landscaping and environmental consulting services on private commercial, heavy highway and municipal projects.  Follow the River is a certified DBE, SBE, EDGE and WBE Company.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University, CPESC and CPSWQ certifications and is a Licensed Underground Storage Tank Installer. 

Butler said, “Joanne is the longest serving board member – serving 20 years. She has dedicated her professional life to public service with MWCD, the State of Ohio, and many other national and local causes. On behalf of all MWCD staff past and present, we thank her for her service.”

“Thank you to the Conservancy Court, US Army Corps of Engineers, MWCD Board, and colleagues for the opportunity to participate in public service at its best,” said Limbach. “I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the district through many years of change, many ups and downs. Through it all, the MWCD has been true to the values created at the inception, which is to provide flood mitigation, conservation, and outdoor recreation to the citizens in the region, and I am honored to be a part of this history.”

Colonel Jayson Putnam, USACE Huntington District Commander, USACE Huntington District Commander provided an update which included projects on the Dam Safety Classification within the MWCD.

Craig Butler presented the annual report of operations which was approved by the court and encompasses the overview of the success of the MWCD from 2022. To view the annual report, visit

Other members of the MWCD Board of Directors include President, Retired Honorable Judge Robert S. Moorehead of Guernsey County, Gordon T. Maupin of Wayne County, Jim Gresh of Stark County, and Retired Major General Ronald E. Dziedzicki of Medina County.

Members of Board of Directors are appointed by the Conservancy Court to oversee the operations and business affairs of the MWCD, which manages more than 57,000 acres of land and water dedicated to public use. Board members meet once a month in open, public session.


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