MWCD to participate in numerous projects in 2010

March 26, 2010

The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) will direct or serve as a partner for many programs in 2010 that will have a positive impact on flood reduction and water conservation in the Muskingum River Watershed.


The MWCD, which several years ago adopted a plan of maintenance for the system of reservoirs and dams in the sprawling 18-county watershed in east-central Ohio, will invest millions of dollars this year to ensure the continued effective performance of the aging infrastructure that has saved more than $7 billion of potential property damage from flooding over the past 70-plus years. Dollars to be spent by the MWCD for the projects are collected through an annual assessment of nearly 500,000 property owners who receive legally recognized benefits from the operation of the reservoirs and dams.


Members of the MWCD Board of Directors recently approved a 2010 budget that includes many projects from the maintenance plan, including partnering with the federal government on projects at two dams in the watershed, shoreline stabilization work at one of the MWCD reservoirs, working with Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) offices in the region, debris removal in streams, water quality monitoring, reduction of acid mine drainage and several other programs.


The MWCD will provide more than $1.7 million as its 2010 portion of the local share for work at Dover and Bolivar dams in northern Tuscarawas County. The bulk of the costs of the work – which will protect and create jobs through the public bidding process – will be paid for by the federal government with the MWCD providing from 3.45 percent to 25 percent of the total cost depending on the type of project. The dams, operated by the federal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), are among five projects in the watershed identified by the USACE as priorities for significant rehabilitation and maintenance.


Work at Dover Dam, which could get under way late this year, has an estimated total cost of $105 million with the MWCD’s share expected to be about $3.6 million. At Bolivar Dam, the total cost is expected to be $145 million with the MWCD’s share estimated at $33.4 million. Contracts are expected to be awarded by the USACE for the Dover Dam project in September, with the Bolivar Dam project to follow in December 2011. Work is then expected to follow at Mohawk and Beach City dams, as well as at Zoar Levee. The total estimated amount of all five of the projects is $635 million to $685 million, with the MWCD’s share over the multi-year period to range from $125.6 million to $137.1 million.


The MWCD also will invest more than $700,000 in shoreline protection projects at its reservoirs in 2010, including work at a site along Pleasant Hill Reservoir in Ashland County that is considered to be the highest priority to be addressed by the MWCD, according to MWCD Chief Engineer Boris E. Slogar. The MWCD could spend up to $545,000 there in 2010, he said.


The MWCD also will be involved with many other programs, including:


            Water quality monitoring - $190,685

            Acid mine drainage remediation - $101,500

            Environmental education - $136,133

            Best management practices - $237,348

            Debris removal in stream channels – $51,000


The MWCD will partner with the federal government, state government and local entities for many of the projects, said Slogar, with the leveraging of other resources to maximize the investment of all participants. The projects also benefit the region’s economy through the protection and creation of jobs where programs include offering the work through the public bidding process.


The Muskingum Basin is the state’s largest wholly contained watershed, covering all or portions of 27 counties – an area of more than 8,000 square miles.


In 2009, the MWCD participated in programs in Belmont, Carroll and Stark counties that reduced sediment loads in Piedmont Reservoir, assisted several homeowners in a federal project to be relocated from a flood-prone allotment near Malvern, and reduced storm flows and improved water quality in a growing nature preserve managed by the City of Canton.


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 Basin. Since their construction, the reservoirs and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving more than $7 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government.


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