GALLIPOLIS — Gallia County residents who live next to Little Chickamauga Creek are beginning to organize because of property damage issues involving consistent flooding issues.
Candy Nuce, a resident who lives on Westwood Drive off Jackson Pike, said she has collected 80 signatures on a document aiming to clear Little Chickamauga Creek of logjams, brush and garbage. She believes the refuse in the waterway helped contribute to high flood waters over the course of the summer. Nuce said she has collected signatures from individuals in her neighborhood between Jay Drive and Bulh Morton Road off of Jackson Pike who are concerned about water coming into their properties.
According to Nuce, she has lived at her current address for 40 years, and she and others in her neighborhood have said the region has flooded relatively worse over the last few years when waters had not been as high 10 years ago. Nuce said she has seen water levels a few feet high in her garage, making it so she has to elevate a freezer to prevent food from being contaminated.
Nuce approached Gallia County Commissioners earlier in October and discussed the issue with them. Commissioners advised Nuce get in contact with the Ohio Department of Transportation or the state in regard to whether something could be done.
Nick Mills, district administrator of the Gallia Soil and Water Conservation District, said due to the intensity of the water surge last summer, it made it difficult to pinpoint whether or not creek blockage would be the sole determiner in the cause of a flood. They most certainly can contribute to a flood in a general sense. According to him, typically the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for “navigable” waterways throughout the country. The group’s closest station is centered in Huntington, W.Va. Little Chickamauga Creek, however, may not be considered a navigable waterway due to its physical features.
According to the stream management guide published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, no government agency has been designated to clear streams of logjams. According to the guide, “governmental entities at the municipal, county, state and federal levels have the statutory authority to undertake stream clearing and drainage improvement projects , but no governmental entity at any level has been assigned by statue the responsibility for such logjam removal activities.”
According to Mills, Gallia County Jobs and Family Services received a grant a few years ago that assisted in clearing brush and growth from streams in the county by utilizing individuals who needed income assistance. The grant has since run out.
According to the guide, “Statutes due exist that grant county commissioners (Ohio Revised Code 6151.14) and township trustees (Ohio Revised Code 505.82) the authority to remove stream obstructions on private property and charge the costs of removal back to the property owner.”
Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.