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Published: Monday, 9/29/2003

Bluffton's water woes the subject of meeting

An open meeting will be held tonight to discuss three costly options for improving water quality in Bluffton.

Village Council will ask residents if they'd rather build a water-treatment plant, or buy water from Lima or Ottawa, Ohio.

“We're using groundwater that is very, very hard,” council president Pete Suter said.

The water is so hard that residents need to replace water heaters and softeners frequently.

“There are also some taste and sight issues as well,” he said.

The water is cloudy. It doesn't taste good, but it meets Environmental Protection Agency standards for safe drinking water.

“For the last six years or so, we've been pursuing different treatment options for our water,” Mr. Suter said.

In 1997, an international engineering firm recommended eight options for bettering the water quality.

The meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. at Bluffton Middle School.

“We've narrowed it down to one at this point,” Mr. Suter said. A two-phase water filtration plant could be built to utilize the village's water supply. The problem, Mr. Suter said, is “it's very expensive.”

It would cost between $6.5 million and $7 million to build the plant and either rebuild or develop a new well field to meet EPA standards, Mr. Suter said.

Buying water from Lima or Ottawa is a less expensive route, but it could be more costly over time.

Lima said it would add Bluffton as a customer and charge $1.58 per thousand gallons. Ottawa said it will partner with Bluffton at $1.67 per thousand gallons.

Buying water from either city means a $4 million waterline will have to be constructed.

Ottawa's cost is a little higher, but as a partner, Bluffton residents could see a decrease in cost if more people tap into the system, Mr. Suter said.

As a customer, the village most likely wouldn't benefit from additional usage.

Each option has positive and negative points, Mr. Suter said.

Mr. Suter hopes tonight's discussions will bring a uniform decision allowing council to pass legislation by year's end.

The meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. at Bluffton Middle School.

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