Flooding in Licking County earlier this year and increasing development pressures in the western half of the county have raised concerns about water flowing in the area’s rivers and streams.

Several studies are underway to gauge water quality and flow in Raccoon Creek, which flows from Johnstown through Alexandria and Granville before merging with the South Fork of the Licking River in Newark.

And Moots Run, which flows into Raccoon Creek between Alexandria and Granville, is part of one of the studies. The creek, with headwaters west of Granville and south of Rt. 161 near Outville Road, is the proposed receiver for treated wastewater from a treatment plant proposed by the Southwest Licking Community Water and Sewer District for a site near the headwaters.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will hold a hearing on the proposed wastewater treatment plant at 6 p.m. on July 16 at the Church of Christ at Alexandria, 5380 Moots Run Road, at Alexandria. Officials in Alexandria, Granville, Johnstown and Johnstown-Monroe school districts oppose the water and sewer district’s request for a permit to operate the plant.

A public meeting to explain the waterway studies will be held two days later – from 5-7:30 p.m. on July 18 at the same place, the Alexandria Church of Christ. The Licking County Soil & Water Conservation District and the South Licking Watershed Conservancy District are hosting the meeting.

The meeting is to “provide a comprehensive update on the current state of the South Licking Watershed,” the organizations said in a news release.

The meeting highlights include:

• A flood mitigation study of Raccoon Creek, which focuses on identifying areas of flood risk in the watershed and developing alternatives for flood damage reduction projects in the watershed.

• A strategic plan that summarizes causes and sources of impairment in local waterways, including  the headwaters of Raccoon Creek and Moots Run.

• Results of ongoing water-quality monitoring at a site on Raccoon Creek.

The meeting also will include an open forum for attendees to share information and participate in focused discussions at information tables before and after formal presentations at 6 p.m.

“It’s a unique opportunity for the community to engage with experts, share their insights and contribute to the preservation of our vital water resources,” said Kristy Hawthorne, director of the Soil and Water Conservation District.

She said it’s important for residents to understand the state of the watershed as development continues in Licking County.

The last water-quality report by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was in 2006, she said, “and that is the most recent one they are using to make decisions about issues related to development. So it’s important for us to have current, certifiable data as we make decisions about the future.”

Residents who attend the July 18 meeting also can help with the study now underway to better identify where and how flooding occurs along Raccoon Creek.

“We are looking for residents to share their flooding experiences with the engineering firm,” Hawthorne said. “A map will allow them to pinpoint where they live and where flooding has occurred – where flooding might damage structures or roadways.”

The event is free. People interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP at https://forms.gle/icwQ8kBSsjgnp3zY9 or call 740-670-5330 for planning purposes.

Alan Miller writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University’s Journalism program, which is funded in part by donations from readers. Sign up for The Reporting Project newsletter here.

Alan Miller

Alan Miller teaches journalism and writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of Denison University's Journalism Program. He is the former executive editor of The Columbus Dispatch and former Regional Editor for Gannett's 21-newsroom USAToday Network Ohio.