TVA Model

The Great Flood of 1913, Columbus, Ohio. Image source: 1913 Ohio Flood Gallery, image 3 of 28 (The Great Flood of 1913. Columbus, Ohio) from the photo archive of The Toledo Blade is reprinted with expressed permission of The Toledo Blade

Ohio’s state legislature in 1914 passed a law called the Ohio Conservancy Act, which allowed formation of watershed districts, with self-taxing authority, to provide protection from disastrous floods. Projects sprung up statewide, and became models nationwide for flood control and regional rehabilitation efforts, including the enormous Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) project.

The Ohio Conservancy Act was prompted by a huge flood in 1913 that caused extreme loss of life and property.  The Upper Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys were hard hit. The Miami Valley of western Ohio was particularly impacted, with over 290 reported dead in the cities of Dayton, Troy, Piqua, and Hamilton.

Miami Conservancy Dams & Levees. Image source: courtesy of The Miami Conservancy District

After flood clean-up, citizens worked together to plan how to avoid such devastation in the future. The Ohio Conservancy Act allowed citizens living in a threatened area to work together to plan and manage their own local flood control project. 

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Lockington Dam, Shelby County, Ohio, April 20, 1922. Image source: courtesy of The Miami Conservancy District