Akron-Canton Airport, Timken support MWCD credits program

December 15, 2008

Officials of the Akron-Canton Airport and Timken Co. say they support a watershed stewardship program that encourages conservation by offering a reduction in a participating property owner's annual assessment paid to the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD).

A financial credits program offering a reduction of up to 30 percent of a property's annual assessment was approved by the MWCD Board of Appraisers during a meeting Friday (Dec. 12) in New Philadelphia. Participating property owners with annual assessments of greater than $12 are eligible to participate to receive credit for approved practices on their property that enhance sediment management, water quality, flood storage and watershed education.

"We do contribute (runoff stormwater) to the system and we should participate," said Richard B. McQeen, president and chief executive officer of the Akron-Canton Airport. "But we want to be sure to get credit for what we have done on our property to improve retention and detention."

Members of the Board of Appraisers also agreed with and approved a request by McQueen to increase the maximum credit permitted on a parcel of property to 30 percent from the MWCD's recommendation of a 25-percent maximum credit. The financial credits program also will be presented to the MWCD Board of Directors for consideration of approval at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 19.

The MWCD will begin collecting assessments next year from the owners of nearly 500,000 parcels of property located in an 18-county area of the Muskingum River Basin, the state's largest wholly contained watershed. More than $10 million annually is expected to be generated from the assessment, which will be used to fund maintenance projects on the system of flood-reduction and water conservation reservoirs and dams in the watershed. The work to maintain the infrastructure also will protect and create hundreds of jobs.

The MWCD will serve as the local cost-share sponsor for dam maintenance and rehabilitation projects identified by the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which projects it could spend more than $600 million in the watershed in upcoming years.

Boris E. Slogar, MWCD's chief engineer, told members of the Board of Appraisers that the concept of a financial credits program to be applied to an eligible property owner's assessment has received valuable input from large entities and owners of property such as the Akron-Canton Airport and Timken Co., as well as smaller businesses and corporations. He said school districts, churches and other non-profit organizations also can qualify to receive a reduction in their assessments.

"The idea of a credits program is simple - to encourage and recognize property owners who take watershed stewardship seriously," Slogar said. "There's an impact financially involved here but we understand and support the importance of conservation and stewardship that benefits the entire watershed."

He said the goals of the program include raising awareness of runoff and water quality issues in the watershed, producing environmental benefits and encouraging best management practices from interested property owners. A credits program is not required of conservancy districts according to Ohio law, but is permitted by the law, he added.

McQueen showed members of the Board of Appraisers where retention, detention and wetlands areas were located on the property managed by the Akron-Canton Airport. He said the airport has spent about $850,000 on these projects over the years.

"We want to be good stewards of our natural resources for our community and believe it is important to handle our part seriously," he said. "It is for the better good of the community that (reservoirs and dams in the MWCD region) remain in good condition. And the tremendous activities that the citizens of Ohio have enjoyed through the use of the (MWCD) lakes, be it boating, fishing and more, is tremendous."

Dominic V. Nardis, manager of environmental, health and safety compliance audit for Timken, said his company also supports the MWCD credits program. He also said the MWCD should be sure to study all proposals for rehabilitation and maintenance in the system of reservoirs and dams for maximum performance and financial integrity.

Assessments for the maintenance of the reservoirs and dams are provided for in Ohio's conservancy district laws. 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 the system of reservoirs and dams. 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 much of the reservoir areas behind the dams.

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 beginning in 2009. The MWCD will serve as the mandated non-federal local sponsor for the projects, with its share of the total cost ranging from an estimated $93.2 million to $123.1 million over a multi-year period. The MWCD has proposed to pay for its share through the assessment of property owners in the watershed according to Ohio law, with nearly 94 percent of the property owners paying the minimum assessment of $12 per year.

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

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 details about the MWCD is available at www.mwcd.org.

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


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