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Toledo mayor optimistic suburbs won't leave water system

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    Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz pitched his regional water proposal to leaders from Lucas County, Monroe County, Fulton County, the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, and surrounding communities in May.

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    Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz

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    Perrysburg Mayor Tom Mackin

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CTY-water-faucet-16

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz pitched his regional water proposal to leaders from Lucas County, Monroe County, Fulton County, the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, and surrounding communities in May.

The Blade
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The day after Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz told residents at a public forum he was confident most suburban leaders favor his plan for regional water, Perrysburg Mayor Tom Mackin took to Facebook to post his response.

“Perrysburg’s position remains the same,” he wrote. “The administration and council are working together to investigate what options are available and the pros and cons to each one of those options.”

In an interview Friday Mr. Mackin reiterated that he still is considering breaking from Toledo’s system, and he’s not the only suburban leader keeping his water source options open.

“We’ve made no commitment, and we told Toledo that we’ve made no commitment,” Mr. Mackin said.

Mr. Kapszukiewicz pitched his regional water plan to leaders from Lucas County, Maumee, Sylvania, Perrysburg, Monroe County, Fulton County, Whitehouse, and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District in May as a counterproposal to the Toledo Area Water Authority plan. The TAWA route required Toledo to lease, if not sell, its Collins Park Water Treatment Plant to the new water authority, which would operate the system.

Instead, Mr. Kapszukiewicz intends to form a regional water commission with representatives from each community that opts to buy Toledo’s water. The commission would set water rates for all customers based on the true cost of service and would make decisions about capital improvements, but Toledo City Council would reserve the right to weigh in.

Fulton County, Perrysburg, Maumee, Whitehouse, Sylvania, and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District all are studying whether connecting to the Michindoh Aquifer makes more sense than buying water from Toledo.

“We have not made comments about whether we’ll accept it or not,” Ziad Musallam, Fulton County’s director of public utilities and sanitary engineer, said of Mr. Kapszukiewicz’s proposal. “We’re working collectively with the entire group, and no decision has been made yet.”

Maumee and Perrysburg also are studying what it would take to connect to Bowling Green’s water source, and Sylvania and Monroe County are exploring what connecting to Detroit’s water system would look like. Only Lucas County officials have said they won’t break from Toledo’s water supply.

Both Mr. Mackin and Mr. Musallam said they likely won’t decide which route to take until the end of the year once all the studies are complete and Toledo is able to present concrete rate proposals.

Utility experts from Toledo and its suburbs are crunching the numbers and hope to have water rate proposals available for each potential customer soon, Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.

“That’s one of the things we would need before we can evaluate whether Toledo is a viable choice,” Mr. Mackin said.

Still, Mr. Kapszukiewicz remained confident the water network won’t splinter.

“At the end of this process — after our suburban partners have done their due diligence, after they’ve researched all their options, after the city of Toledo has amended its charter — I do believe that we will attract most, if not all, of our suburban partners who agree with me that our approach is in the best interest of the region.”

Contact Sarah Elms at selms@theblade.com419-724-6103, or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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