Thursday, November 19th, 2009
By Nancy Allen
Area residents can learn about forming St. Marys River Watershed group
  Residents from Rockford, Mendon and surrounding areas are invited to a public meeting Monday evening to discuss forming a locally-led St. Marys River Watershed group.
The meeting will be 6 p.m. at the Rockford Village Hall and will be similar to a meeting held in Willshire in October.
Andy Kleinschmidt, Van Wert County OSU Extension educator, and Ken Kottenbrock, a technician with the Van Wert County Soil and Water Conservation District, have been working to gauge the interest in forming the group after community members expressed a need. They have been using a small seed grant to get the word out about the group's possible formation.
Kleinschmidt said a meeting held last month in Willshire had good attendance and the yet-to-be formed watershed group has the verbal support of Van Wert County commissioners.
"Some are very concerned with flooding and right up there a close second is water quality," Kleinschmidt said.
A third concern voiced by residents at the Willshire meeting was improving communication between officials in Ohio and Indiana regarding the river, Kleinschmidt said. The river flows from Ohio to Indiana.
Kleinschmidt said if there is enough interest in forming the watershed group, then key group members with the help of OSU Extension professionals would write and apply for a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to fund hiring a watershed coordinator. The coordinator then could go after an Ohio EPA 319 grant to do in-depth studies in the watershed to address key issues, he said.
Kleinschmidt stressed that community input and interest is critical to forming a new watershed group.
"The more local involvement you have the better ODNR and EPA views your watershed group and any possible funding," he said.
Stakeholders from all walks of life are invited to Monday's meeting, including business owners, residents, farmers, those from industrial and municipal sectors, elected officials, recreational users and anyone interested in issues associated with the river. The meeting will last about 90 minutes and no RSVP is needed.
A watershed is the area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. Everyone lives in a watershed. Some are millions of square miles, others are just a few acres.
The St. Marys River Watershed is made up of 146,410 acres in Mercer and Van Wert counties that drains into the river. The majority of the watershed lies in Mercer County with 118,410 acres, while Van Wert County has 28,000 acres.
In Mercer County, the watershed covers all of Blackcreek and Center townships, most of Dublin and Hopewell townships, a little more than half of Liberty and Union townships, and the top most northern part of Jefferson township. In Van Wert County, the watershed covers most of Willshire township, the southern part of Liberty township and a small portion of southern Harrison township.
The Van Wert County Soil and Water Conservation District and OSU Extension is sponsoring the Monday meeting.

How to go:
What: Public meeting
Why: To discuss forming a St. Marys River Watershed group
When: 6 p.m. Monday
Where: Rockford Village Hall
More info: Call Andy Kleinschmidt at 419-203-5967 or e-mail him at kleinschmidt.5@osu.edu
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