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UPDATED: Corps says flood-control plans delayed again, to 2016

The Army Corps of Engineers said  this morning that its final report detailing Blanchard River flood-control plans may not be complete until 2016, more than a year later than its most recent estimate.

That’s a timeline that regional officials are calling “unacceptable.”

Updated “tentative plans” are now expected to be released no earlier than September, the corps said. Those concepts will then undergo further public and state agency vetting.

In December 2012, the corps said the final plans would be ready by the fall of 2013.

The corps made the announcement at an 8:30 a.m. press conference at the Hancock County Engineer’s Office. The Courier and WFIN were not at the press conference because they did not receive notification. Corps representatives say they sent releases on Monday.

Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik said she heard about the press conference less than 24 hours before, and had a scheduling conflict that prohibited her from attending. However, corps officials briefed her and other regional officials on Monday regarding the study’s status.

Dave Romano, chief of planning for the corps’ Buffalo District, said officials here had “very pointed” thoughts about speeding up studying.

“The timeline at this point in time is unacceptable,” said Mihalik. “It’s unacceptable to me, and it’s unacceptable to the public which has been supportive of the corps’ efforts for the past few years.”

“It’s imperative that we continue to work with the Army Corps to find more efficiencies” that will result in a final plan in 2015, she said.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, also said the new schedule is “unacceptable.”

“It is important that the Army Corps of Engineers and all stakeholders work together to complete the study as soon as possible. The Ottawa and Findlay communities are ready to move forward into the next stage and address the flooding,” the legislators said.

“The key component is to have a functional hydrologic model that will quickly show whether various flood-control methods will work or not,” they said.

Courier reporters Joy Brown and Denise Grant are developing this story.

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