MWCD Takes Steps to Find Flood Mitigation Options for Black Fork Watershed


April 16, 2015

Properties in the Black Fork watershed have been plagued by recurring floods for many years. Most recently severe floods were realized in 1987 and in 2007 when the central region of downtown Shelby was inundated and caused significant damage to commercial and private residential structures. The US Geological Survey (USGS) estimates the magnitude of those flooding events exceeded the 500-year flood. As a result of these events Mayor Steven Schag of Shelby stated, “The residents are always on edge during flood conditions and are always wondering what damage another inch of rainfall will cause.”

As part of a grass roots effort to find relief from the flooding, City officials from Shelby reactivated the Black Fork Subdistrict within the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) in 2011 for the purpose of preparing an Official Plan. An Official Plan is the guiding document to address watershed management issues prepared by engineers, reviewed by a Board of Appraisers for a cost benefit analysis and eventually presented for approval to the Conservancy Court.

As an initial step to keep the momentum rolling, the MWCD provided funding for hydraulic and hydrologic studies which were completed in 2014 by the USGS, a Federal agency. The results of the study provide current inundation mapping, more accurate flood risk assessment data and serves as a basis to pursue engineering and best practice solutions.

The MWCD is stepping in to help identify all potential solutions in the flooding in the Black Fork Subdistrict. The MWCD five member Board of Directors unanimously approved a $500,000 contract for an engineering consultant to design and prepare conceptual level construction plans along with a cost benefit analysis. All potential solutions will be considered through the process of public out-reach to the local community and through engineering best practice standards. The results of the study will allow the local Back Fork Subdistrict property owners to sift through the cost benefit analysis and pursue implementation if local investment is approved. Technical groups are scheduled to meet later this month to identify and prioritize flood prone areas in the Black Fork Subdistrict. In response to the approved MWCD funding of the study, Mayor Schag stated, “We are delighted this day is coming to find solutions for a better quality of life for all our citizens in Shelby!”

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 covering 8,000 square miles. The District’s 16 reservoirs and dams have been credited for saving an estimated $10.7 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government. In addition, over 3.6 million customers a year use the District’s recreational facilities throughout Eastern Ohio which bolsters the region’s economy and augments the quality of life for Ohio’s residents.

For more information about the MWCD, visit and follow the MWCD on Facebook and Twitter.


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