Regional Water Discussion – March 2017

Last week, the City of Toledo shared it’s proposal on regional water issues.  Unfortunately, the mayor’s comments and position on the details were not well received.

For example, Toledo’s Mayor says they will not share ownership of the existing plant. While this is one of the main items several of the 9 contract communities insist upon!

Thus, the conversation during the meeting did not bring the parties any closer on the issues. So, the they agreed to hire a facilitator to come in to help. The expectation would be for the facilitator to identify the issues, discuss the various related position(s) on them and move towards agreement, where possible.

That is a tall order after 35-40 years of water service that has included multiple utility policy changes by Toledo through the years.  Most have allowed Toledo to raise the prices, get income tax-sharing and written regional economic development language into the water contracts during that time.

Meantime, the Wood County Economic Development Commission has authorized the funding for a second phase of the Wood County study looking for alternatives. This effort should be completed in the next 4 months. It will detail both design and financial aspects of alternative water options, so side-by-side comparisons can be done of them.

For the District, it’s not about ownership or politics, it’s about our customers.  Throughout these talks, we want the best rate and safe, quality water for our customers. Period.

More soon!

Jerry Greiner
President

Regional Water Participation

What does that mean to you as a customer?

It should mean that a regional entity, most likely a government organization, owns and operates a water system (or sanitary sewer or storm sewer system) for non-profit while delivering quality service on a uniform, system-wide basis.

What does that mean to the City of Toledo?

They already are “regional” in that they meet the definition above. In their mind, for the last 50 plus years, they have operated the water system in that manner.

What does that mean to the outside “purchase communities?”

The 9 outside governmental agencies may not agree simply on the definition of “regional,” when it comes to the treatment of the water, its rate/cost, and the decision making.

For example, Toledo’s rates vary and their additional surcharges, income-tax sharing rules and other added requirements have pushed many to the edge on these requirements. They exceed the rule of fairness being reasonably priced and motivated to the buyers.

When does everyone (buyer &sellers) agree on its definition and how it will operate?

Let’s hope meetings and discussions continue between the buyers and sellers of our water so that they can define what it is and how it will operate. Otherwise, some irreplaceable decisions could occur that could be costly for all end users.

Regional Water Update

Full Support

All purchasers and seller (Toledo) approved a resolution to support a regional approach to water sales in northwest Ohio recently.

That’s good!

Now What Does That Mean?

There is a full committee of staff and elected officials who meet approximately every 6 weeks to discuss related issues. As well, there are two subcommittees of staff and legal representatives who meet and discuss items of their interest.  These 2 subcommittees try to recognize and address items of mutual concern.

What Happens Next?

Those subcommittees, in particular, will continue to meet to research issues, share understanding(s) of items and seek alternatives or options to which they will address and satisfy everyone’s needs.

That will be no easy task!

TMACOG Water Study

A recent Toledo Blade article covered the ongoing issue of regional water. It explains a forthcoming meeting of TMACOG, in which area governmental leaders will meet to discuss support for a non-binding agreement that addresses mutual priorities for water quality and sales.

Who Cares?

There are 9 governmental contract purchasers whose contracts (to purchase Toledo water) expire in the next 7-10 years. Each of them, including the Northwestern Water & Sewer District, would like to see uniform, equal rates and have input on rates.

If this isn’t accomplished, several of the nine buyers have economical options, they have never had to buy elsewhere as Toledo’s water rates have gone up due to long-neglected plant repairs and replacement work.

If some, or all, of these 9 buyers were to leave, those remaining customer’s rates would need to go up even more to make up the difference in lost revenue from the outside purchasers.

What’s Going to Happen on Wednesday, January 11, 2017?

These political subdivisions are meeting to discuss this non-binding agreement seven of the nine local governments have approved it, but Toledo has not.

The rumor behind Toledo’s reluctance (to endorse this) is the general language of the agreement. With a mayor, council, their attorney’s and staff all involved, they cannot agree on what they are willing to commit!  Meantime, past elected officials in Toledo have been involved as well.

It’s a real mix of parties.

If there’s no real action this week, maybe its two weeks later, maybe its two months later. The various political subdivisions can continue to meet and talk about their similarities and differences.

So?

Those political subdivisions will have to decide when to stay at the table for discussion or start spending money further studying their options to make good solid thoughtful decisions.

More Talk on Regional Water Studies

If you recall, there have been 3 efforts to look at water needs in our region. These include:

  • TMACOG’s study looked at Toledo’s water facilities for the region, estimating both capital costs and rates for the next 40 years.
  • Sylvania’s study looked at leaving Toledo’s system and building a new water treatment plant and intake for use by Sylvania and southern Monroe (MI) county areas.
  • Wood County Economic Development Commission’s (WCEDC) study looked at options for the City of Bowling Green to sell excess capacity to the cities of Perrysburg and Maumee and well as our District (which would resell this water to citizens in Rossford, Walbridge, parts of Northwood, and areas of Perrysburg Township, Lake Township and Troy Township).

All 3 of these regional water studies can be found on the District’s website at www.nwwsd.org.

What does this all mean?

These 3 studies offer 3 very different approaches to serving the water needs of the region. In addition to the areas above, Toledo water is currently also used in other areas such as:

  • Lucas Countyblog-map
  • Whitehouse
  • Fulton County

Currently, approximately 50% of the water use from Toledo’s water plant comes from inside Toledo’s corporate limits and 50% is consumed outside of Toledo in those other areas such as Sylvania, Wood County, Rossford, etc. It is expected that the percentage of “outside areas” use will only increase as each year goes by.

Overall the region’s water demand is nearly the same as it was 10 years ago reflecting less use, more conservation, and more efficient water systems.

Talks between the region’s water buyers and the sellers continue almost weekly over long-term costs, rate increases, and other contractual issues.

Several of the larger users of Toledo’s water have contracts expiring as early as 2024. Because of the time needed to plan and build new facilities or expand old ones, it is by no means too early for all these entities to meet, talk, and plan for the future.

jerry blog logo

 

Regional Water Studies Reviewed

Over the past few weeks, three regional studies have been completed and publicly released. These include:

  1. TMACOG’s regional water rate study for Toledo’s water system.
  2. City of Sylvania’s water study for their community and Southern Monroe (Ml} County
  3. Wood County Economic Development Commission’s water study for its county.

Each study reviewed and summarized different data related to service in their political jurisdiction. Thus, they are all different, but provide some financial data for comparison.

Both the TMACOG study and Sylvania’s study recommend expensive new infrastructure that needs to be built either singularly or by a larger political group or customers to satisfy EPA demands or to offer Sylvania options or provide backup for Toledo. (But at what price?)

thG89Z0NHLThe Wood County Economic Development Commission (WCEDC) study concludes the City of Bowling Green infrastructure has existing water capacity to serve others, up to some point. Depending on the users, they can be served with existing plant or expanded plant capacity. Much depends on necessary reservoir capacity to serve the various expanded areas, however (and the willingness of Bowling Green to sell it!)

Now, review and discussion must occur and weighing of options become necessary to determine what’s best for the various geographical users.   Some systems may be able to add redundancy and emergency connections as needed, if that is important and affordable to them.

But it’s all at additional costs with little revenue growth expected.  That will mean increased costs and increased water bills for everyone!

For copies of these reports, please go to our website to read them (www.nwwsd.org).

jerry blog logo

 

We Need a Favor!

Hello all- I hope you are enjoyed the spring season and are looking forward to summertime!

I need a favor please.

If you are a customer, will you please click below and take our survey? It is brief and should take no more than five minutes to complete.

I am also asking all organizational reps who do work with us to take the survey as well. If you are a contractor, a media person, a government agency representative, or vendor, please help us by providing feedback on how we are doing.

Our survey is much needed as we want and appreciate your opinions and feedback.

The District needs to continually improve and we can’t really do that without your help.

Again, please help and click below to take the survey.

Sincerely,

Jerry Greiner, President NWWSD

CLICK HERE FOR SURVEY

 

NWWSD FACEBOOK

NWWSD TWITTER

EMILYS POSTS ON TWITTER

NWWSD G+

NWWSD WEBSITE

jerry blog logo