County eyes water with less strings attached PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by By JAN LARSON Sentinel County Editor   
Friday, 15 May 2009 11:03
Thirsty for water to developing areas, the Wood County Commissioners have approved a study to search for water from another source - with fewer strings attached.
On Thursday, the commissioners agreed to help fund a regional water study with Ottawa County. The $18,750 study will be split between the two counties and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District.
The district already purchases water from Bowling Green, Toledo and Oregon -so is now turning its attention to the east where the water is plentiful.
"They have excess capacity," and Wood County has the need, said Jerry Greiner, executive director of the water and sewer district.
And unlike the sometimes antagonistic relationship between Wood County and Toledo, the relationship with Ottawa County is expected to be more mutually beneficial, Greiner said. "They are good political partners," he said of the two counties.
Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown said after Thursday's meeting that the pursuit of new water source is good planning.
"I think it's important for the long-term health and welfare of our citizens that we need to look at other sources of water," he said.
The advantage to Ottawa County water is that it comes with no tax sharing strings attached, Greiner explained.
"They are willing to serve additional areas without additional income tax," he said.
Toledo, in contrast, sometimes asks for tax sharing agreements in exchange for sending its water to areas in Wood County. For example, just this week the Troy Township Trustees approved a tax-sharing Joint Economic Development District agreement with Toledo in exchange for getting Toledo water and sewer services extended to the Dominion Energy site just south of U.S. 20 on Pemberville Road. The services will also be extended to the communities of Stony Ridge and Lemoyne.
"It opens several doors," Greiner said of the expanded water and sewer services.
However, it doesn't come cheap. According to Brown, Toledo's water surcharge is as much as 112 percent for customers outside the city, and the tax sharing agreements take as much as 40 percent of the income tax from the area served.
"Toledo has placed increasing demands," he said. "I just don't think they understand regionalism."
Though Brown understood the need for the JEDD agreement between Troy Township and Toledo, he is concerned about the taxes going to Toledo.
"The terms and the tax sharing are very troubling to me," he said.
But Troy Township needed the water and sewer commitment in order to secure state funds for the "Jobs Ready Site" at the Dominion Energy acreage.
"Our county would lose over $2 million from the state," Brown said. "The agreement was unfortunately necessary."
"In the long term, our goal is to find additional sources of water so these agreements aren't necessary," Brown said.
And that's where the Ottawa County water may come in.
Greiner said the district is looking at "long-term possibilities" of using Ottawa County water to supply areas such as Rossford, Perrysburg, Northwood, Millbury, Pemberville, Luckey and scattered developed areas throughout the east side of the county. Ottawa County currently has a capacity of nine million gallons of water a day, with an average use of 4.5 million gallons a day, peaking at six million gallons in the summer.