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BOWLING GREEN - Residents whose well water is hard or high in sulfur content will soon have an affordable way to buy purified drinking water by the gallon.
The Northwestern Water and Sewer District plans to open its first WaterShed location outside its Middleton Township office on State Rt. 582, just east of State Rt. 25 and west of I-75.
Beginning next week, customers can drive up and, using their own one or five-gallon container, fill up for 25 cents a gallon.
Jerry Greiner, executive director, said the district hopes to install up to three more water stations later this year, and, if all goes well, four more in 2006.
"It's unique for government to offer water in this manner," Mr. Greiner said. "The board and I had this philosophical question: Should we sell water by the gallon? We already do that through waterlines. The only difference is the delivery method."
The water comes from the district's own lines, but is purified in a nine-step process that eliminates all odors and compounds. The station cost about $40,000 to build and equip, he said.
"It's perfect for those situations where people want a little bit better quality water than tap water - for making baby formula, coffee, and just for drinking," Mr. Greiner said.
The district hopes to serve residents west and south of Bowling Green who are most likely to have hard or sulfur-tainted water.
Once it gets a feel for how the station at the district headquarters works, plans call for placing WaterSheds along U.S. 20 in Rossford or Perrysburg Township to serve communities like Stony Ridge, Lemoyne, and Lime City; at U.S. 23 and State Rt. 199 north of Fostoria, and on the west edge of Bowling Green near the Wood County fairgrounds. All are high-traffic locations.
Mr. Greiner said he initially planned to locate the water stations in more rural locations where residents were most likely to need purified water, but Environmental Protection Agency regulations mandated that the stations be linked to a sanitary sewer system - something that doesn't exist in most of the locations he had in mind.
One place where that could change is in the village of Custar in southwest Wood County, which is in the process of building a sanitary sewer system. Mr. Greiner said that once sewers are in place next spring, the village would like to have a WaterShed for residents from the small town and surrounding area to buy drinking water.
Custar has applied for a Community Development Block Grant to pay for the water station, and should find out next week if it will receive the funding. The Wood County Planning Commission is to award the grants when it meets Tuesday.
Future WaterShed sites could be in neighboring counties that have similar problems with access to pure drinking water, he said.
"It's kind of a neat concept," Mr. Greiner said. "We hope it will go well."
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