Midland County and MBA Move Forward with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Study
September 10, 2021
In August, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) presented its proposed scope, estimated costs and projected timeline for a hydrologic/hydraulic study of the Tittabawassee River Watershed to representatives of the County of Midland and the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) Advisory Committee on Infrastructure. At the Midland County Board of Commissioners meeting on September 7, both the Administration & Operations Committee and the Finance Committee recommended the approval of the agreement between USACE, the MBA Foundation and the County of Midland to begin this study.
“This study of the hydraulics and hydrology of the watershed – what we refer to as the ‘flood study’ – will give us current data that can be used to create a comprehensive plan to improve the frequency and severity of flooding in Midland County and surrounding areas,” said Lee Ann Keller, co-chair of the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure. “The data and analysis will allow the engineers to suggest, for example, the locations and amounts of floodwater retention that would be needed to mitigate future flooding.”
The data collection, analysis and resulting recommendations are likely to take two years to complete, according to the USACE. The first step was the agreement and signed contract between the County, MBA and USACE.
The projected cost of the study is $861,000. USACE will pay for half of the study, with the other half falling to local support. Through the donations of local businesses and foundations, the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure has pledged to cover this 50 percent cost share.
“This ability to fund the study is thanks to our supportive community donors: Charles J. Strosacker Foundation, Corteva, Dow Company Foundation, Fisher Companies, Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation, Midland Area Community Foundation, MidMichigan Health, Patricia and David Kepler Foundation, Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation, and Three Rivers Corporation,” said Keller.
Part of the local cost sharing can be through in-kind services, such as the needed surveying and geographic information system (GIS) mapping. After the Midland County Board of Commissioners approved the USACE agreement, the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure sent out requests for proposal (RFPs) to companies that provide surveying and GIS services. The RFPs solicit bids and qualifications from these firms.
“With almost 60 miles of waterways that need to be surveyed and mapped, this is a big job,” said J.W. Fisher, co-chair of the MBA Advisory Committee on Infrastructure. “But we can drive the surveying and provide that data to the Corps of Engineers to launch the project. Getting this done right away should help move the project along significantly. We plan to select the surveying firm soon and have that firm complete the fieldwork by the end December and the delivery of the data to USACE by the end of January.”
The committee is also discussing hiring an engineering firm to work in tandem with the USACE during the study. “We would like the engineering firm to start looking for what we call ‘low-hanging fruit’ – projects that might be easy and fast to implement and could have positive impacts on flood mitigation and building resilience in the region,” said Fisher.
“This is an exciting time while we move forward on the study,” said Keller. “As we make progress, we will continue to keep the community updated at www.MBAmi.org/floodstudy.”