Regional Water Authority Talks
Talks to create a new regional water authority are continuing and have moved to the next stage. After more than a year of discussion with a full committee of elected officials and administrators from all of the contracting communities, interested neighboring communities, and the City of Toledo, a smaller group is getting down to the details.
In May, voting members of the initial committee decided on and passed a resolution agreeing on the creation of a Section 6119 Regional Water District as described in Ohio’s Revised Code. The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce stepped up and offered to fund a facilitator to shepherd the process and define how this regional district could operate. The offer was accepted and Eric Rothstein was selected as the facilitator. Rothstein has experience in public utilities and with regional water authorities; he worked on Detroit’s regional agreement.
TMACOG President Tim W. Brown says that we are seeing real progress on the development of a fair and equitable district. “I am very proud that TMACOG has been instrumental in bringing negotiations for a regional water distribution system further than they have ever come before. The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce’s offer to pay for a facilitator to take these discussions to the next level is both welcome and necessary.” He noted that the committee discussions through TMACOG showed that “There are far more points upon which our region’s elected officials agree than disagree.” TMACOG is confident that the negotiations will pay off. “We look forward to a durable, regional solution.”
The smaller group meeting with the facilitator includes one elected representative from each of the nine contracting communities and the City of Toledo. One technical or legal advisor may also accompany those representatives. The group had its first official meeting June 14.
TMACOG Chair Craig Stough is also the chair of the Regional Water Planning Committee. After the June 14 meeting he said, “ Wednesday's first meeting with Eric Rothstein was an excellent start to the facilitation process. All communities were present with their elected officials or utility heads actively participating.” Mayor Stough said that discussions at the meeting focused on the ultimate goal. He said, "Regional cooperation to optimize water utility system development could achieve cost savings and limit rate increases, ensure safe and reliable water service for all, and protect public health and environmental services."
Members of the group have a target to complete the facilitation in 8 to 10 months. They will be reporting back to the full TMACOG committee in early 2018.