A day after Mayor Mike Bell declared the need to raise water rates to pay for $257 million in repairs at the city’s aging drinking-water treatment plant, Toledo City Council on Tuesday approved $9.34 million toward different projects at the facility in East Toledo.
Mayor Bell on Monday said he was committed to whatever rate increase would be needed to pay for the long list of repairs, although the projects approved Tuesday will be paid with current water utility funds. On Tuesday, he said past mayors and councils have “kicked the can down the road.”
City water rates increased 9 percent each in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and are scheduled to go up 9 percent again in 2013.
Mr. Bell said he had proposed raising rates even higher in 2010 to help pay for the repairs but council refused and approved a lower increase.
“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 built as an 80 million-gallon-per-day plant in 1942 with a 40 million-gallon-per-day expansion in 1956.
The funding council approved Tuesday includes $2.8 million for design and other costs of a new 40-million gallon treatment unit for the plant, which will include a flocculation basin and a sedimentation basin.
“We have to build that first,” City Public Utilities Director David Welch said. “That is the redundancy plant that will handle 40 million gallons a day.
"We need it to take the 80 million-gallon plant offline to make repairs,” he said.
Council also approved $1.5 million toward design work at the city’s low-service pumping station in Jerusalem Township.
The water treatment plant obtains its water from an intake crib 3 miles out in Lake Erie that gravity feeds to the low-service pumping station.
From there, it is pumped 9 miles via pipeline for treatment at the Collins Park plant.
An additional $5 million was approved for a supervisory control and data acquisition system for the plant and $40,000 for leak-detection equipment.
The supervisory control and data acquisition system contract will be awarded to Rockwell Inc. The treatment plant, outlying pump stations, and chlorination facilities operations are monitored and controlled by such a system, which is required to comply with state and federal drinking-water regulations, the ordinance states.
Council voted 11-0 on the four ordinances. Councilman Phillip Copeland was not present for the meeting.
Council also voted 11-0 to give $125,000 to a Columbus nonprofit microlender that plans to open a branch in Toledo and offer loans to entrepreneurs whose operations are too small or uncreditworthy to get money from a bank.
The Economic and Community Development Institute will get the $125,000 if it can obtain that same amount from other sources.
It needs $250,000 annually for operating start-up costs and the city would be the largest contributor.
The nonprofit institute specializes in loans under $100,000 and leverages loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.