Friday, September 11th, 2020

County will try to fix drainage issue from Celina subdivision

By William Kincaid

Invasive species and undesirable vegetation have taken root in an old railroad b. . .

CELINA - Mercer County officials will try to curtail recurrent flooding, halt ongoing erosion and restore water quality at a site in Hopewell and Jefferson townships where water runoff from the Bruns subdivision in Celina has reportedly drained for decades.
"This is going to be a huge improvement," Ag Solutions Coordinator and project director Theresa Dirksen said. "It's going to clean everything up."
County commissioners on Thursday signed off on a $272,245.30 grant agreement with Ohio Lake Erie Commission to create a two-stage ditch and wetlands just north of Celina and accessible from Weitz Road. The project will be funded exclusively with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant dollars originating from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Furthermore, the project is expected to reduce the flow of nutrients into Lake Erie, the ultimate destination of the drainage, Dirksen said. Officials anticipate an annual reduction of 1,299 pounds of nitrogen, 68 pounds of phosphorus and 12.1 tons of sediment.
"The two-stage channel is going to improve water quality and give us much more capacity along with the wetland," Dirksen said. "We're going to get additional capacity out of that (wetland) as well as some diversification of wildlife."
The project may take up to two years to complete. Involving four land owners, a majority of the project will take place on farmland owned by Celanco Inc., according to the grant application.
"The Bruns subdivision (built in the early 1990s) within the City of Celina limits, drains to the project area without detention," the application states. "Several large culverts (convey) stormwater outlet into an old railroad bed that drains to the north through the Celanco farm."
The railroad bed and right-of-way once owned by Penn Central Railroad were later sold to the Celanco corporation.
"The drainage ditch was never properly constructed and has since developed three different gullies along and in the old railroad bed that are severely eroded," the application states. "The entire project area has not been maintained and is grown up with invasive species and other undesirable vegetation."
Officials have proposed building about 1,700 feet of two-stage ditch and 1.3 acres of wetland area, which would provide additional water-holding capacity to reduce flooding and enhance water quality.
The first and deepest of the two ditches would be able to handle the type of storm that occurs every year or two while the second ditch would be designed for a 50- to 100-year storm. The ditch would provide a connected, active floodplain. Another benefit would be improved ecology, the application states.
"The first stage is designed to take normal flow and then when you get higher flows we've got a much wider channel that has denser grass cover to take the flood waters," Dirksen told the newspaper.
Landowners involved in the project have agreed to donate a 20-year conservation easement.
"We have been searching for a solution for nearly a decade to solve the erosion and flooding on this land caused by the upstream drainage area and lack of properly constructed outlet ditch," Eldon Houts of Celanco Inc. wrote in a letter supporting the project. "Mercer County and Mercer Soil and Water Conservation District has been very supportive in searching for solutions to this issue over the last several years."
Mercer SWCD Board Chairman Andy Schwieterman threw his support behind the project, saying in a letter that SWCD officials have supported Celanco Inc. in exploring solutions to the flooding and erosion problems.
"We feel that this proposed project is the best possible way to improve the area," Schwieterman wrote. "Mercer SWCD is also willing to hold and administer the conservation easement that will be placed on the project area to protect the conservation practices for the next 20 years."
Mercer County Community Development and Mercer SWCD will press ahead with a full design and engineering plans. Depending on when necessary permits are issued, officials hope to bid the project out early next year.
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