State Representative David Ober (R-Albion) introduced HB 1089 to expand the scope and powers of the SJRBC to address flooding issues in the basin. Although measures taken to improve water quality often have a positive impact on water quantity, flood mitigation is not specifically included in the enabling statute of the SJRBC. The intent of HB 1089 is to expand the scope and powers of the SJRBC for better handling and prevention of flooding by including items and powers from the enabling statute of the Maumee River Basin Commission (MRBC), which was created to address flooding in its basin.
The addition of explicit language regarding flooding would make it clear that problems like those in the West Lakes area of Noble County are well within the scope of the SJRBC, but it is not clear that the SJRBC’s existing statute prevents it from helping in many of the ways the MRBC assists its communities. Financial and technical resources primarily limit the SJRBC from developing comprehensive flood mitigation plans and flood elevation data. Members of the SJRBC and its partners have expressed concerns about certain aspects of HB 1089. These concerns and suggested amendments were submitted to Representative Ober on January 6th. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.