Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Mill Creek study funded

Communities want flooding report finished

By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer

SHARONVILLE - Officials in the Mill Creek Valley are turning up the heat on a long-delayed storm-water project they hope will prevent another deadly flood.

On Monday, Sharonville and Evendale officials announced they were contributing $100,000 each to the Mill Creek Valley Conservancy District.

The two Hamilton County communities hope the contributions will help speed completion of a long-awaited Army Corps of Engineers study on how to fix the creek's growing flooding problem.

"We're doing everything in our power to make sure this (study) gets finished in March," said Christine Thompson, assistant to the mayor in Sharonville.

Discussions on what to do about the creek date to the 1980s, she said.

"It has been extremely frustrating for us," Thompson said.

The Corps is slated to finish a $9 million study this spring on options for the Mill Creek, including an $800 million tunnel to contain overflow, said Sharonville Mayor Virgil G. Lovitt.

In Sharonville, "our No. 1 issue is flooding in the Mill Creek," Lovitt said. "That creek is hurting the economy and the livability of about a dozen communities" along the stream's path.

Flash flooding in 2001 left three people dead in Fairfax and Symmes Township and caused millions of dollars in damages in the region, including the Mill Creek Valley.

Sharonville officials blame the recent increase in flooding partly on burgeoning development in Butler County, which drains into the Mill Creek, and the flat terrain of the valley, where overflow tends to pool.

Ken Townley, store manager of Kenworth of Cincinnati, a truck company on Mosteller Road, said flooding wasn't a problem in the 1980s when he started working there.

Now, employees routinely are forced to move inventory or risk damage that could cost about $1 million, as Kenworth did in 2001, he said.

Sharonville officials say a fix can't come too soon.

"If it rains a couple inches in a few hours, it'll happen again," Townley said. "That creek can be almost dry; and if it rains hard and fast, it'll come up and over."

E-mail loakes@enquirer.com

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