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Wooster Digital History Project

Watershed Development

“Next Monday our astronauts will land on the moon. When our nation can do such a marvelous feat as that, surely we can do something to save such destruction of lives and property[.]”

- Mayor Paul Tilford, Testimony before the Subcommittee on Flood Control, July 19, 1969


On July 19, 1969, the Subcommittee on Flood Control of the U.S. House of Representatives came to Wooster. Meeting in the Municipal Courtroom of the Wooster Municipal Building, they invited numerous guests -- including Wooster Mayor Paul Tilford -- to provide testimony on what damage had been done and on how federal aid could help.

Mayor Tilford was quick to call for, and Colonel Maurice Roush of the Army Corps of Engineers was quick to promise, a federal flood control study and plan for the area1. The completion of this flood control study and plan, however, was a much longer story.

Shortly after the subcommittee hearings, community members in Wooster formed the Killbuck Watershed Association, which sought to promote flood control and hear comments from community members. On October 15, 1969, the association was officially formed during the “Killbuck Watershed Conference” at the OARDC Auditorium2. In 1970, it would file for formal federal aid under Public Law 566 -- which authorized funds for projects in small watersheds like the Killbuck.

However, Tilford's call would only be fully answered in August 1982 -- twelve years later. The Flood Hazard Study completed that year by the USDA's Soil Conservation Service and Ohio agencies helped to provide floodplain maps so that the governments of Wooster and Wayne County could begin the task of flood control3. Shortly thereafter in 1984, the first formal assessment on flood control would be made.

Wooster, it seemed, would finally be made safer from floods.

Timeline: The path to flood prevention


1-U.S. House of Representatives, “Ohio Storm Damage Inspection: Hearings Before The Subcommittee on Flood Control of the Committee on Public Works,” Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970, pp. 261-263
3- USDA Soil Conservation Service, “Killbuck Creek Flood Hazard Study, Wayne County, OH,” USDA Soil Conservation Service: Columbus, Ohio, August 1982