Prompted by the flood of 1981 which put the village of Ottawa under water, a study was conducted to determine the best methods to promote water flow and reduce the severity of future flooding along the Blanchard River.
Cleanup began in 1994 along the 98 miles of the Blanchard, which includes 35 miles in Putnam County. Nearly 493,000 acres of land drain into the Blanchard. Landowners were initially assessed $14 per parcel of land and–when the maintenance fund runs low–are charged an annual $2 per parcel per year. Annual maintenance includes removal of logjams and leaning trees.
During the initial cleanup, nearly 900 logjams, or an average of about 10 logjams per mile, were cleared. The project was estimated to cost $1 million, however, cost of the cleanup totaled $750,000. Maintenance of the river has been done annually since then, under the oversight of the Hardin, Hancock and Putnam Soil & Water Districts in each of their respective counties.
The project resulted in the establishment of the Blanchard River Stream Enhancement program, which covers the six counties of the Blanchard watershed. The program provides cost-sharing for cleaning ditches or building waterways in the entire Blanchard watershed. Such projects must be constructed through Soil & Water or County Engineer. State cost-share of the program can be as much as 30% of the cost of the project.
Persons in the Blanchard watershed interested in ditch cleaning, waterway construction or livestock waste handling can contact their local Soil & Water for more information.