The proposed project would remove up to 40,000 cubic yards of sediment that had accumulated behind the dam and in the former reservoir.

FINDLAY, Ohio – Findlay River dam has been a city landmark for over a century, but some changes may be coming.

The dam was first built in the late 1800s to help collect ice upstream, then it was used to form a reservoir for the city. It now holds back the water for recreational purposes, offering kayaking from Zonta Landing. And it has become a local spot for fishing, photography and more.

But now decades of sediment build-up in this stretch of the Blanchard River have become an environmental risk, said Lauren Sandhu, watershed coordinator for the nonprofit Blanchard River Watershed Partnershipsaid.

“This reservoir is so filled with sediment that it used to be 7 to 8 feet deep. Now it is only about 3 or 4 feet deep,” said Sandhu. “And when we don’t have a lot of rain and the water level goes down, that definitely affects boating.”

So both the city of Findlay and Hancock County have invested $80,000 each in planning a large-scale dredging project to remove up to 40,000 cubic yards of sediment.

And BRWP has applied for federal grants that would pay for the installation of an in-stream or out-of-stream bypass to allow Blanchard’s 50 species of fish to pass through the dam.

“The dam is as historic as it is important to maintain the river level behind the dam for recreational purposes, removing the dam is not desirable,” Sandhu said.

Local leaders believe these upgrades will not only help improve water quality regionally, but further enhance the river as a tourist destination.

“I think just improving the water quality in this area and being able to encourage more people to use it for recreation is going to be a great step forward,” said Findlay Mayor Christina Murin.

BRWP officials said they will know by the end of October whether they will receive a grant for the project.

And if awarded, pre-construction would begin in December 2022, with proper physical construction in early 2024.

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