WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and Rep. Bob Latta (OH-5) urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to follow recommendations of the bipartisan Senate-House appropriations bill that would benefit the Blanchard River Flood Risk Mitigation Project (BRFRP). According to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, funding flood control projects like BRFRP not only make communities safer, they can create jobs and improve local economies.
“We know that flood control projects like Blanchard River’s help spur economic growth and protect local communities from devastating disasters,” Brown said. “Six years ago, $70 million in damages occurred in Findlay and Ottawa due to the worst flood those communities experienced in 100 years. But resources are still needed, and the U.S. Army Corps should prioritize funding to help bring the Blanchard River project closer to completion. My colleagues and I will continue to fight for the Findlay and Ottawa communities until this happens.”
“As I saw firsthand when I visited in December, the Findlay and Ottawa region continues to be plagued with flooding,” Portman said. “The Blanchard River Flood Protection project is critical for this community’s economic future, and I join my colleagues in continuing to urge the Corps to prioritize its work on an expedited path forward to overcome this challenge.”
“It is an important step that the Consolidated Appropriations Act recognized that additional funding was needed for flood control projects, with an emphasis on economic development,” Latta said. “My colleagues and I have been working to ensure that flooding projects, such as the BRFRP, are a priority and receive funding through the Army Corps of Engineers. I will continue to work with the Army Corps to ensure funding of the project for a timely completion of the Chief’s Report.”
Because of the economic benefits of funding flood control projects, Congress increased appropriations to USACE for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 and mandated that these projects receive consideration for priority funding. The Blanchard River feasibility study is eligible for funding under the appropriations bill.
The Blanchard river project, 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, USACE estimates an additional $1.5 million in federal funding is needed to continue the project’s study phase.
Brown, Portman, and Latta continue to fight to ensure that the Blanchard flood project receives the funding necessary for its completion. In October 2013, they urged USACE to include funding for the project for FY 2014 and 2015. And in July 2013, they continued to put pressure on USACE to reprogram FY 2013 funds towards the project.
Today’s letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, can be read in its entirety below:
January 27, 2014
The Honorable Jo-Ellen Darcy
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works)
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0108
Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy;
We write today concerning the Blanchard River feasibility study. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 contains important provisions which are relevant to the funding of a study that we wanted to bring to your attention.
In the bill, Congress recognized that the Army Corps of Engineer’s flood control projects can lead to significant economic benefits by avoiding damages caused by flooding. In recognition of these benefits, Congress provided the Corps a 10 percent increase in funding compared to the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and a 14 percent increase over the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget request. This additional funding will enable the Corps the opportunity to fund additional studies not identified in the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget request.
Congress specifically provided the Corps the authority to fund a study if “it has received funding, other than through a reprogramming, in at least one of the previous three fiscal years.” The Blanchard River feasibility study last received funding, that was not reprogrammed, in fiscal year 2011 and as a result is eligible for funding under the authority provided in the appropriations bill.
Finally, the appropriations bill requires the Corps to consider prioritizing studies that enhance economic development, job growth, and competitiveness; and provide Congress a new work plan within 45 days.
As you know, the Blanchard River has repeatedly spilled over its banks, causing severe flooding in the City of Findlay and the Village of Ottawa. In 2007, the area suffered its most damaging flood event in nearly 100 years, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate and halting operations at area businesses. It is crucial that we continue to work together to find a successful solution to protect these communities from future flooding.
Thank you again for your assistance and leadership with respect to advancing the Blanchard River Flood Risk Mitigation Project. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.