Fulton County ponders Toledo water deal


By David J. Coehrs - dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com



The City of Toledo has approved a new regional water commission, and Fulton County is among eight northwest Ohio communities that need to decide by Oct. 18 whether to join.

This second attempt at a water proposal was unanimously approved by Toledo City Council on Sept. 3. It offers Fulton County a 40-year uniform water contract that Commissioner Jeff Rupp said sets equitable rates for all communities involved and keeps pricing transparent.

Rupp said the county commissioners have not yet addressed the water proposal but ““We’ll definitely take a look at it and see if it’s beneficial for the residents of the county.”

According to Ziad Musallam, Fulton County Public Utilities director, the Regional Water Commission will determine a rate structure based on how many of the eight potential customers, including Fulton County, decide to sign up. The others are the cities of Sylvania, Maumee, and Perrysburg, the Village of Whitehouse, Lucas and Wood counties, and Monroe County in Michigan.

Each has 45 days from Sept. 3 to enter into the contract.

The rate structure will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020. The rates for the outside communities include the costs of piping and water treatment.

If Fulton County opts into the agreement, the new water proposal would cover mainly the eastern portion of Fulton County. The county would initially receive six million gallons daily, an amount that, if necessary, can be increased.

“This deal levels the playing field for all involved. It keeps the pricing transparent,” Rupp said.

The county is currently under a 20-year agreement with Toledo that expires in 2036. Service areas include North Star Bluescope Steel in York Township, Amboy, and Fulton townships, a portion of Royalton Township, and the Village of Metamora, all in the northeast portion of the county, and Swancreek Township in the southeast portion. Those entities now pay a declining block rate of $24.94 per 1,000 cubic feet of water over the first 10,000 cubic feet; $24.23 per 1,000 cubic feet of water over the next 150,000 cubic feet of water; then $19.03 per 1,000 cubic feet of water over the next one million cubic feet.

Toledo’s first attempt a year ago at a regional water proposal, titled the Toledo Area Water Authority, was scrapped by its city council because the agreement required the city to forfeit ownership of a water treatment plant.

Rupp said the first plan also had shortfalls, including a different rate for each participating community and a lack of transparency.

“They’ve made a lot of progress. I think (the new water contract) has potential,” he said. “This agreement is being received much more favorably by all the outside parties. It’s a much more equitable agreement.”

Rupp said he isn’t sure when the commissioners will discuss the water contract.

Fulton County Commissioner Bill Rufenacht said Musallam has attended meetings regarding the water proposal, and “we will very much be listening to his advice on what would be best for us in the long-term.”

Rufenacht said the plan would give the county access to the water source in the event of unforseen circumstances. “It’s some long-term security. That, to me, would be the number one positive,” he said.

By David J. Coehrs

dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.