County eyes water with less strings attached

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.