Also in attendance were U.S. Representative Jim Jordan, who represents the Fourth Congressional District, which includes Findlay, as well as U.S. Senators George V. Voinovich and Sherrod C. Brown and a representative of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. Mayor Iriti was joined by a delegation of business and community leaders from Findlay.
“For years, the entire watershed lagged behind other regions in accessing federal money for managing our water resources,” said Kaptur, who is serving her 13th term in office. “Now we’re moving forward with the largest watershed assessment in the country, but it’s still not fast enough for families and businesses that were hit by the recent floods.
“Last month’s disaster in Findlay and Ottawa has focused new attention on the water management issues before us in Northwest Ohio. Although I do not represent Findlay, I am fully aware the next flood could happen in Toledo or Sandusky or elsewhere in my district. Our region must speak with one voice and use this attention to our advantage.”
The meeting with Congresswoman Kaptur, Congressman Jordan and the two senators was organized cooperatively to hear first hand from Mayor Iriti about ongoing cleanup efforts and his attempt to organize legislative support for a comprehensive approach to flood issues.
Participants focused on the task of marshaling federal funding not only for cleanup but also water management issues in a broader sense.
Kaptur noted that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had proposed a flood control program for the Blanchard River watershed in 1962 that would have greatly minimized or even prevented the recent flooding. At the time, however, the political will did not exist to address the issue in a comprehensive manner.
Congresswoman Kaptur secured federal funding in 1999 for the Western Lake Erie Basin study under Section 441 of the Water Resources Development Act. The study area includes a 7,200 square-mile drainage area, including the watersheds of the Maumee, Portage and Ottawa rivers. The Western Lake Erie Basin partnership was formed to provide a framework for sustainable development; the Corps of Engineers is scheduled to complete a comprehensive watershed assessment in April 2008.
For more information on Maumee watershed protection efforts, visit http://www.wleb.org/