WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the U.S. Senate debates the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced an amendment that could expedite projects like the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Project (BRFRP). Brown’s amendment would ensure projects are eligible for federal construction funds upon completion of their U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) Chief of Engineer’s Report. Without this amendment, BRFRP would not be eligible to receive federal construction funds from USACE until the next WRDA authorization. Prior to the current water resources bill, the Senate last considered a WRDA bill in 2007.
“This is about ending an arbitrary waiting game for important projects like the Blanchard River Flood Risk Management Project,” Brown said. “The Ottawa and Findlay communities have invested time and valuable financial resources into getting this project underway, and it’s critical that the U.S. Army Corps continue to do the same by providing the appropriate funds for its completion. This amendment would quicken that process.”
BRFRP, viewed by USACE as a model for the rest of the country, is a first of its kind flood risk management project. While the local cost-share is in place, the USACE estimates an additional $1.5 million in federal funding is needed to continue the study phase of the BRFRP.
Brown has worked with the BRFRP Coalition to encourage USACE to move quickly on the Blanchard River mitigation project. Last month Brown urged USACE to commit to funds for BRFRP for the second half of fiscal year 2013. In December 2012 Brown also sent a letter to USACE urging assistance in expediting BRFRP.
In November 2011, he met with officials from the Army Corps of Engineers’ Buffalo District, which encompasses northern Ohio. Brown met with Deputy District Commander Martin Lewton, Deputy for Programs, Planning, and Project Management Thomas Switala, Chief of Programs and Project Management Ron Kozlowski, and Chief of Planning Major Martin Wargo. In that meeting, Brown pressed for a faster timeline on the Blanchard River Flood Mitigation Study. Brown and members of his staff also met last week with Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, Ottawa Mayor J. Dean Meyer, Hancock County Commissioner Phil Riegle, former County Engineer Steve Wilson, and Tony Iriti, the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance economic development director.
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