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Water, sewer district weighs long-term options for Maumee, Wood County

Much has been made of the pending Toledo Area Water Authority, but a backup plan for water supply could be in place for Maumee and some Wood County residents if TAWA falls through.

That’s the message about 100 people received Thursday night at a regional water meeting hosted by the Northwestern Water and Sewer District at the Quality Inn in Perrysburg. The audience heard from TAWA representatives about the work they’ve put in over the last year, but also learned about a potential partnership with Bowling Green.

Rex Huffman, general counsel for The District, led off the presentation and explained how TAWA would operate. He mentioned Toledo’s issues with EPA mandates, which caused bill increases for communities using city water, as a primary reason for exploring a regional solution.

“There has been some dissatisfaction from our suburbs with the water supply,” Mr. Huffman said. “Had changes been phased in instead of all at once, the increases wouldn't have been as drastic.”

The District is exploring long-term options for water supply for about 6,500 customers in Wood County using Toledo water, including those in Rossford, Northwood, Walbridge, Perrysburg Township, Troy Township, and Lake Township. The District is involved in TAWA talks, while also exploring options in Wood County.

The District purchases water from Toledo, then distributes it to numerous municipalities where they oversee the entire water process, including maintenance of water and sewer lines. Cities like Rossford signed on when they could no longer afford to maintain their water system and make necessary improvements.

The District’s contract with Toledo expires in 2024.

Officials from Toledo, Lucas County, Maumee, Perrysburg, Sylvania, Whitehouse, Fulton County, Monroe County, and The District have been meeting since May, 2017, to hammer out an agreement on regional water. The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce hired consultant Eric Rothstein to help reach a consensus.

Mr. Rothstein spoke at the meeting, telling the crowd water rates have increased double the rate of inflation over 10 years, and expects that to continue for another decade.

“The bottom line is this is an agreement that seeks to provide economic benefit for all parties and the protection of public health for all parties,” Mr. Huffman said.

Representatives from all entities signed a memorandum of understanding Jan. 31. TAWA's goal is to balance water rates across all communities within eight years and find a second water source other than Lake Erie's intake.

The Wood County Economic Development Commission conducted a study looking at the possibility of expanding the Bowling Green water treatment plant after Maumee expressed interest in joining. Poggemeyer Design Group president Jack Jones walked through the findings.

A potential deal between The District, Maumee, and Perrysburg to use Bowling Green’s water would result in monthly water bills of about $36 a month based on 1,000 cubic feet for customers. The plant would increase its production to 21-24 million gallons per day, and the total cost of the project would be about $150 million. Mr. Jones said this plan would take about four years to come to fruition.

“The city of Bowling Green has been an excellent partner, and they recognize the benefits of selling more water,” Mr. Jones said.

Contact Jay Skebba at jskebba@theblade.com, 419-376-9414, or on Twitter @JaySkebbaBlade.

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