Defiance City Hall’s “watershed approach” — an initiative aimed at improving Maumee River water quality with less expensive alternatives to expensive Ohio EPA mandates — might receive a welcome partner in Defiance College.
At least that’s the hope of some city officials who told city council about the possible partnership Tuesday night.
Not only was council updated on this effort during its regular meeting, but it also handled five ordinances (see related stories) and discussed possible lifeguard shortages this summer for Kingsbury Pool (see related story).
City Administrator Jeff Leonard informed council that the city is working with Defiance College to obtain an “earmark” — funds granted through the federal government — to work on its watershed approach. Specifically, the city would team with DC staff and students to help monitor water quality issues in the Maumee River watershed.
This might include tributaries throughout the region. And, in fact, the city’s stormwater coordinator, Jen English, told council that the focus would be in the Sherwood and Hicksville area.
Tributaries in that area drain water into the Maumee River, which flows through Defiance and provides the city’s drinking water.
Leonard noted that the city has worked with several universities in the past — such as Bowling Green, Toledo and Indiana-Purdue in Fort Wayne — but “for the longest time there’s been this sort of absence with the (Defiance) college, and I think we want to reach out and work with them as well.”
He added that “the confluence of these rivers (in Defiance) is right in the backyard of Defiance College.” So, the city wants to “partner with them, we want to work with them on some of these programs and we’re asking the government for an earmark to do this. … it’s important for us to get the right partners here.”
Leonard said the administration will ask council to approve a resolution of support for the proposal.
According to English, the initial “earmark” request was going to be for $700,000.
Mayor Mike McCann said the earmark application must be sought from the city government, rather than Defiance College. The deadline to apply is Thursday, he said.
English explained that several groups have submitted letters of support for the program such as the county’s schools, Defiance County commissioners and Maumee Valley Planning Organization.
The earmark proposal, she indicated, would have three components — a permanent agricultural alliance, a data center and an annual conference. English said the data center would involve DC staff and students providing field research while the annual conference would help establish a way to inform the public.
“Once we have the money then we will be able to see the best way to go about achieving what it is we want to achieve,” McCann stated. “This could be a real breakthrough for us.”