A day after Mayor Mike Bell declared the need to raise water rates to pay for $257 million in repairs for the city's aging drinking water treatment plant, Toledo City Council approved $9.34 million toward different projects at the facility in East Toledo.
Mayor Bell on Monday said he is committed to whatever rate hike would be needed to pay for the long list of repairs. Today, he said past mayors and councils have "kicked the can down the road." The city water rates increased 9 percent each in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and are already scheduled to go up 9 percent again next year. Mr. Bell said he had proposed raising rates higher in 2010 to help pay for the repairs but council refused and approved an increase that was less than the mayor's request.
"I understand why they didn't because we had a lot of things going on and the economy was in a lot worse shape then," Mr. Bell said. "It would have been nice if 10 or 12 years ago we started working on this so it would have been cheaper and we could have spread it out and had more time."
The Collins Park Water Treatment Plant was originally constructed as an 80-million gallon per day plant in 1942 with a 40- million gallons per day expansion in 1956.
The funding council approved today includes $2.8 million for design and other costs of a new 40-million gallon new treatment unit for the plant, which will include a flocculation basin and a sedimentation basin.
"We have to build that first," said City Public Utilities Director David Welch. "That is the redundancy plant that will handle 40-million gallons a day. We need it to take the [existing] 80-million gallon plant offline to make repairs."
Council also approved $1.5 million toward work at the city's Low Service Pumping Station located in Jerusalem Township. The water treatment plant obtains its water from an intake crib located three miles out in Lake Erie which gravity feeds to the Low Service Pumping Station. From there, it is pumped nine miles via pipe line for treatment at the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant.
Another $5 million was approved for a supervisory control and data acquisition system for the plant and $40,000 for leak detection equipment.
Council voted 11-0 on the four ordinances. Councilman Phillip Copeland was not present.