Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Miami Conservancy one of Ohio’s oldest and most active

In this summer of torrential downpours, it's appropriate southwest Ohio's Miami Conservancy District celebrated a 100th birthday and rolled out a new logo to better identify its varied roles.

"We were founded to provide flood protection for the region and that remains our main focus, but we wanted our logo to acknowledge how our mission has expanded in to the areas of water quality and recreation," said Janet Bly, the conservancy's general manager. "The new logo features three water droplets in a circle, which represent both the endless water cycle and MCD's three main missions."

Of Ohio's 20 conservancy districts, the Miami is among the most active and visible. 

It grew out of the great flood of March 1913 that left 467 people dead and more than 60,000 homes destroyed or damaged statewide. 

According to the Ohio Historical Society, the Great Miami River flooded 14 square miles of downtown Dayton and submerged streets in 10 feet of water. Downstream in Hamilton, 100 people died as water rose to 18 feet in residential areas.

In those days, people and property along Ohio's major waterways were at the mercy of Mother Nature. 

All that changed after 1913 as state leaders pushed for the creation of multi-jurisdictional flood protection agencies.

The Conservancy Act of Ohio became law in 1914. It allowed local governments to levy taxes and issue bonds for the construction of flood-control dams. It was the first legislation of its kind in the country and served as a model for other states.

A year after passage of the act, Dayton businessman Edward Deeds headed a committee that hired engineer Arthur Morgan to design a system of flood-control dams and levees for the Great Miami River and its tributaries.

According to the MCD's 2015 Annual Report, between 1918 and 1922, as many as 2,000 workers labored to build earthen dams, channels and levees at Piqua, Troy, Tipp City, Dayton, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Franklin, Middletown and Hamilton. 

The cost was $30 million – a bargain by any standard – since those dams and levees have protected 47,000 properties from flooding for 100 years. 

Neighboring communities sought inclusion in the MCD over the years. And more dams and levees went up.

Subsequent amendments to the conservancy act allowed the district to widen its scope to include groundwater resource management on many levels.

MCD also leases its lands for parks and bike trails, making the agency a major sponsor of outdoor recreation in the region.

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