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Special Collections & Archives

Flood Menace Historical Background

In response to the flood protection movement a group of prominent businessmen and civic leaders, led by the founder of the National Cash Register Company (NCR), John H. Patterson, formed the Dayton Citizen’s Relief Commission. The committee raised two million dollars for flood prevention. They employed the Morgan Engineering Company in Memphis, headed by Arthur Morgan, to establish a protection plan for the city of Dayton. Morgan was the first director of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). It was quickly determined that effective flood prevention in the Miami Valley could not be achieved by Dayton alone. It would require other communities in co-operation with Dayton and the Morgan Engineering Company to develop a comprehensive flood prevention policy.

The “Official Plan” included the construction of five dams and retarding basins as well as significant channel improvement and levee construction. Since Ohio did not have a law that would permit a regional cooperative undertaking of this nature, the Conservancy Act of Ohio (Vonderheide Act) was prepared and passed by the legislature on February 18, 1914. Under its previsions, a conservancy district could become a public corporation armed with all the necessary powers to levy taxes, borrow money, condemn land and do the necessary work to accomplish flood protection. The day after governor James Cox signed the Conservancy Act a petition was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County asking for the establishment of The Miami Conservancy District.