The Columbus Dispatch this morning reported the state’s department of natural resources’s appearing before the Supreme Court again yesterday in answering why it should not be held in contempt – again -- nearly five years after it was ordered to pay damages to property owners near Grand Lake St. Marys whose properties were flooded because of the widening of a dam spillway.
“The case stems from changes to a dam spillway at Grand Lake St. Marys near Celina in 1997 that worsened flooding along Beaver Creek in which 87 property owners, largely farmers, won a 2009 ruling entitling them to property damages, and the agency’s denying that it violated the court’s orders accompanying a rare ruling in late 2012 that the agency and its director were in contempt for defying its order to compensate the landowners.”
The present article relates the lawyer representing the landowners' saying state officials have “blatantly violated” the court’s orders by attempting to introduce a new flooding study to justify paying less in damages, while the Department of Natural Resources, said the state has not caused delays in moving damage cases to trial in “one-judge” Mercer County and that (the new study) is more accurate than prior appraisals based on the “500-year flood” in 2003.
Grand Lake St. Marys is a state park in Mercer and Auglaize counties near Celina about halfway up the state’s western border with Indiana and the largest inland lake in Ohio in terms of area, but very shallow with an average depth of only 5 to 7 feet making it increasingly susceptible to high levels of lake pollution, E. coli bacteria, and related algae levels. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency considers it "impaired" due to "stream channelization, drainage tiles, loss of floodplains and streamside vegetation, manure runoff and untreated sewage flowing from failing home septic systems and small communities without any wastewater collection or treatment." (More on Wikipedia)