Regional Water Authority Discussions
The City of Toledo and all the communities that buy water from Toledo have been meeting for many months as a Regional Water Planning Committee. Elected officials from each of the communities and the City of Toledo recently passed a non-binding resolution in favor of exploring options for the creation of a regional water supply and distribution system.
At a meeting at TMACOG January 11, the committee as a whole looked at two of the biggest challenges: technical issues concerning cost and infrastructure, and the legal issues about how a fair system would be created and governed. Jim Shaw, Lucas County Sanitary Engineer, leads the technical subcommittee. He reported on costs of distribution, costs of updates to Toledo’s Collins Park water plant, and other fixed expenses which he characterized as “very significant.”
Most of the meeting was taken up with a discussion of the legal structure of a new regional system. Carol Contrada, Lucas County Commissioner and chair of the TMACOG Water Quality Council, leads that group. She noted that any new legal governance would have to address the contracting communities’ requirement for a “meaningful governing voice” in the new entity, and the City of Toledo’s ownership of the assets that make up the system. There is also a question of changes to the Toledo City Charter that might require a vote of the city’s citizens, and issues regarding the employees of the department of public utilities.
The legal subcommittee presented two possible structures: a Unified Water Contract structure, and a Section 6119 Regional Water District as described in Ohio’s Revised Code. Representatives of the City of Toledo described the Unified Water Contract as a “beefed up” version of the existing situation. Each of the nine contracting communities would negotiate separate contracts with Toledo although with uniform rate costs. The city agreed that a board of directors in this scenario would be advisory and that contracts could be subject to change with a change in city leadership. A 6119 District is a flexible structure that the legal subcommittee members said could be written to suit the parties involved. Rex Huffman, a member of the legal subcommittee, stressed that under the 6119 law there are upwards of 100 different 6119 structures in Ohio. The 6119 law would allow the Toledo region great flexibility to create a water distribution structure suited to our needs. Opinions differed about whether the 6119 District would be easier to effectuate than the Unified Water Contract structure. Most communities leaned toward the 6119 District and the legal subcommittee is charged with organizing a presentation to share more information about it.
The next meeting of the entire Regional Water Committee is Wednesday, February 8 at 7:30 a.m. in the TMACOG Boardroom.
Jim Shaw, Lucas County Sanitary Engineer, and Craig Stough, mayor of the
City of Sylvania and chair of TMACOG, join in discussion on water distribution
for region on WGBU. See the video here.
Municipalities participating in the Regional Water Planning Committee are:
• Fulton County
• Lucas County
• Monroe County (Monroe South County Water)
• Wood County (Northwestern Water and Sewer District)
• City of Maumee
• City of Perrysburg
• City of Sylvania
• City of Perrysburg
• City of Toledo
• City of Waterville
• Village of Whitehouse
Other interested parties (that do not currently purchase water from Toledo but share interest in a regional system)
• Lucas Township Association (Harding, Jerusalem, Monclova, Providence, Richfield, Spencer, Springfield, Swanton, Sylvania, and Waterville townships)
• City of Bowling Green
• City of Oregon