BOWLING GREEN - Saying the city of Toledo's demands on its out-of-town water customers are getting "outrageous," Wood County commissioners yesterday took a first step toward bringing water from Ottawa County to northern Wood County.
Commissioners agreed to pay one-third of the cost of an $18,750 study that would examine which areas could be served, what would need to be done, and how much it might cost. Ottawa County and the Bowling Green-based Northwestern Water and Sewer District each have agreed to pick up a third of the cost.
"I think it's an investment in the future of our county," Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown said. "The water needs in the northern part of the county continue to grow."
Mr. Brown has met in recent months with officials from Rossford, Perrysburg, and Perrysburg Township to talk about the issue.
"The common thread of our discussions is having a source of water that is potentially more amenable than the city of Toledo," he said. "Frankly, the city of Toledo's water agreements are becoming more and more outrageous."
Rossford has been in a stalemate with Toledo over talks over its water supply agreement and accompanying income tax revenue-sharing plan.
Since Feb. 27, Toledo has charged Rossford residents a noncontract surcharge of 125 percent on the water they use. In addition, Toledo receives 27 percent of income tax revenue from Rossford's Crossroads of America development.
Toledo officials want the city's share of income tax revenue to increase to 40 percent on income tax revenue over $400,000.
Thomas Stalter, principal owner of Poggemeyer Design Group, which has been retained to do the Ottawa County water study, told commissioners the study could take three to six months. Actually bringing water into Wood County is years away, he said, because Ottawa County's water plant likely would need to be expanded, among other upgrades.
"This will not be a quick solution, but it starts us on the path of finding additional sources of water for the citizens of Wood County," Mr. Brown said.
Ottawa County, which gets water from Lake Erie, operates a water plant in Port Clinton with a capacity of 9 million gallons a day, said Jerry Greiner, executive director of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District. Currently, Ottawa County's waterlines extend as far west as the Brush-Wellman plant at State Routes 105 and 590.
If water was extended farther west to Wood County, Mr. Greiner said, it could serve the villages of Elmore and Genoa in Ottawa County as well as Wood County towns like Luckey and Pemberville. "There's plenty of needs for water," Mr. Stalter said.
Officials said it's not known whether Ottawa County would require a tax-sharing agreement with communities it supplied water to, although Mr. Brown said Ottawa County officials "seem to get regionalism" and are more interested in covering their costs than making money.
"They have said they have no interest in pillaging people over the resource of water," Mr. Brown said.
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