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Published: Wednesday, 3/23/2005

Delta: Suit filed to stop new water plant

A hearing has been set for April 11 in Fulton County Common Pleas Court on a request to stop construction work on the Delta water treatment plant.

Kathy Galbraith, Rita Harpring, and Rose Butz filed a complaint in the court in Wauseon against Delta and its village clerk in an effort to get a water-rate ordinance on the ballot.

In November, residents circulated a referendum petition for the ordinance, but the village clerk did not certify the petition to the Fulton County Board of Elections because petition organizers failed to obtain a certified copy of the ordinance as required by village charter.

Village council has awarded bids for construction of the water plant, and work is under way at the site. Delta officials declined to speculate on what sort of impact an injunction would have on the project.

Delta's water system is in noncompliance with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's regulations regarding the levels of total trihalomethanes. Officials have said that the new water treatment plant will reduce the total trihalomethane content of the drinking water. Delta and several other communites in the county have sent out letters to water customers to tell them about the levels of "total trihalomethanes."

Levels are not immediately threatening to people's health, but a state regulation that took effect last year requires municipalities to tell their residents about the substance. Municipalities must send letters to residents every quarter the water system is in violation; letters were sent out in December. The village recently received its second quarterly violation letter from the EPA.

According to the water notices, some people who drink water containing trihalomethanes in excess of the maximum contaminant level over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, or may have an increased cancer risk.

Total trihalomethanes form when chlorine used to sanitize water reacts with organic matter like leaves or aquatic plants.

Delta Mayor Don Gerdes noted that council has worked for several years on the water treatment project, and that a citizens' committee as well as elected officials studied several options, including purchasing water from Wauseon or Fulton County, as part of the process.

Residents involved in the petition campaign contend that the new plant is too expensive and that residents cannot afford higher water bills.

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