Regional water options eyed PDF Print E-mail
Written by ALEX ASPACHER Sentinel Staff Writer   
Thursday, 07 November 2013 11:12
PERRYSBURG - The city will begin discussing long-term water solutions by participating in a Toledo group focused on regional collaboration.
City council passed a resolution Tuesday designating Tim Warren, Perrysburg's director of public utilities, as the city's primary representative to the Regional Water Advisory Committee. Warren said the group has been meeting informally for several years and consists of Toledo; Lucas, Monroe and Fulton counties; the Northwestern Water and Sewer District; and communities with contracts to purchase water from Toledo, such as Perrysburg, Maumee, Sylvania, Waterville and Whitehouse.
The group will focus on ironing out more uniform water agreements, which presently vary depending on the community. Cities like Perrysburg want to retain some control over their own systems that deliver water to customers, though there "are definitely decisions that affect the region as a whole," Warren said.
Regional collaboration is increasingly urgent because of mandatory upgrades to Toledo's treatment plant that could total $300 million. Cities with Toledo water contracts are already having those costs passed along. "It's an extremely critical issue," Warren said. "I'm sure it's just as big in all the other communities as it is here."
Dave Welch, Toledo's director of public utilities, said increasing costs and required upgrades made it necessary to pass along a 13.2-percent rate increase to the cities that buy its water. That increase was made without much input from contract communities like Perrysburg, so efforts have been ramped up in the last six to eight months to increase communication.
Toledo supplies water to more than 500,000 people in this region, he said.
"It's just an idea that we're all in this together. Let's sit down and start talking," Welch said.
"This is the first step toward getting everybody on board."
Future discussions will likely touch on Lake Erie's problems with algae, as well as ways those participating can work together by applying for grants and loans as a region, sharing equipment and trained staff, and collaborating on capital improvements, long-term cost management and best practices.
"Water's going to drive a lot of things in this area, and it's about time we start talking about it as a region," Welch said.
Long-term plans could include creating a new political division responsible for handling the region's water issues to "take the politics out of the sale of water" by establishing a separate, regional authority, Warren said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 November 2013 11:31

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