Like the organization she led, Janet Bly has had an understated but powerful impact on Ohio’s Miami Valley. On May 6, she retires as the Miami Conservancy District’s general manager. With a background in human resources, Ms. Bly joined the Miami Conservancy District (MCD) in 1994 after holding positions in manufacturing, health care, and city government. In 2002, she was named MCD’s general manager, responsible for leading the organization that provides flood protection, water stewardship, and outdoor recreation for communities along the Great Miami River.
During Ms. Bly’s 20-year tenure as general manager, MCD tackled the challenges of aging infrastructure and changing weather patterns. She built a strong team that collaborated with regional partners to address nutrient pollution in our waterways, groundwater protection, new stormwater regulations, and levee accreditation requirements. She was instrumental in advancing local quality of life initiatives like riverfront parks, bike trails, and land conservation.
Ms. Bly advocated for effective public policy, programs, and funding to benefit the Miami Valley region through participation in local, state, and national organizations. She was active in Leadership Dayton, the Greater Dayton Mayors and Managers Association, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, Water Management Association of Ohio, Ohio Water Resources Council, Ohio Conservancy Districts Conference, National Groundwater Association, and Association of State Dam Safety Officials. She served on the Department of Homeland Security’s Dams Sector Council and held several leadership positions with the National Association of Flood and Stormwater Agencies (NAFSMA). From 2018 – 2020 she served as NAFSMA’s president.
With Bly at the helm, MCD:
- effectively safeguarded people, property, and our economy from flooding.
A $25 million dam safety investment is nearly complete, addressing potential vulnerabilities in the dams’ foundations, cores, and concrete structures. This reinvestment, along with high standards of maintenance by a dedicated team of employees has prevented disastrous flooding and minimized the risk and fear of flooding so the region’s communities can thrive. MCD’s levees have been accredited by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Ms. Bly’s team recently secured over $1 million in federal funding to continue improvements to the flood protection system.
- successfully promoted science-based approaches to protecting our region’s valuable water resources.
MCD piloted the nation’s first water quality credit trading program, implemented innovative green infrastructure demonstration projects, and supported university programs and research. The water data MCD collects and publishes is widely used for planning and policymaking related to water supply, flood protection, construction, agriculture, commerce, and industry. MCD has been recognized as a Groundwater Guardian and Bly accepted a Special Recognition Award from the National Groundwater Association for MCD’s service and commitment to the groundwater industry and community through involvement and achievement on a local and regional level. The National Weather Service recently named MCD a “Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador of Excellence” and Congressman Mike Turner recently praised MCD’s management of the Dayton Water Quality and Infrastructure Review.
- transformed our river corridors into places that are celebrated and enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.
Once feared and neglected, southwest Ohio’s waterways are now active, vibrant spaces, with nationally-recognized bike trails and exceptional public spaces. Ms. Bly served on the RiverScape planning committee and was part of a team that attracted the International Trails Symposium to Dayton. She cultivated partnerships with recreation agencies like Five Rivers MetroParks and local cities and counties. Through these partnerships, thousands of acres of MCD land are enjoyed as parks and trails while maintaining the land’s primary purpose of flood risk management.
“The Miami Conservancy District and the region have benefitted significantly from Janet’s leadership,” said Beth Whelley, president of MCD’s Board of Directors. “Janet has consistently brought a thoughtful, collaborative and forward-looking approach to her role and our organization; as a result MCD and the region are well positioned for the future.”
” Under Janet’s leadership MCD has quietly gone about its business for many years,” said Brian Martin, Executive Director of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. “MCD is a critical agency and I’m glad that we have worked together so well during my tenure.”