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Allen, Hardin, Seneca, Hancock, Putnam and Wyandot counties back Blanchard River project

FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) — Six counties in northwest Ohio are taking a regional approach to reduce flooding along the Blanchard River.

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Flooding has plagued the Blanchard River for years, costing Ottawa, Findlay, and other communi-ties in Putnam and Hancock counties millions of dollars in damages.

The Blanchard River Stream Enhancement Project board, which includes commissioners from Allen, Hardin, Seneca, Hancock, Putnam and Wyandot counties, voted unanimously Thursday to authorize a cleanup.

The Hancock Soil and Water Conservation District was authorized to seek bids for the cleanup along an 88-mile stretch of the river.

The cleanup would include removing debris from the main channel of the river. The stretch includes 31 islands that would be cleared.

Addressing flooding along the river has become a top priority for the region south of Toledo.

Five major floods since 2007 have brought millions of dollars in damage to the cities of Findlay and Ottawa. The worst was in August 2007 when flooding caused more than $100 million in damage.

The latest estimates put the cost of the cleanup project at about $510,653. Property owners in the river's watershed would pay about $8 per parcel for the cleanup.

Crews can only clear out the river, said Gary Tuttle, of the Hancock Soil and Water Conservation District. They can't take sandbars out because of endangered mussels.

The cleaning would help with flooding, said Putnam County Commissioner Travis Jerwers.

"People get so frustrated hearing just talk and no action," he said. "We want this to be fixed and done with."

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