Fulton County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a letter of intent for the county to participate in a regional water commission approved by the City of Toledo.
The commissioners voted unanimously to issue the letter in advance of an Oct. 18 deadline set to join the commission. Fulton County has been among eight northwest Ohio communities considering the agreement.
Approved by Toledo City Council on Sept. 3, the regional water plan would provide a 40-year uniform contract beginning Jan. 1 that Fulton County Commissioner Jeff Rupp previously said sets equitable rates for participating communities and keeps pricing transparent. County areas covered under the contract would include North Star Bluescope Steel in York Township, Fulton and Amboy townships including the Village of Metamora, a portion of Royalton Township east of the Village of Lyons, and the Swancreek Water District.
Under the agreement the county would initially receive six million gallons of water daily, although that amount could be increased if necessary. The county’s rates would include the costs of piping and water treatment. The water commission’s rates would be set according to the number of participating communities.
County Public Utilities Director Ziad Musallam said the water commission’s members would be permitted to participate in the system’s planning, improvements, and rate settings. “This type of water agreement approach is expected to transition the water service area into a partnership in which everyone has a voice while working together to achieve common objectives,” he said.
The agreement would eliminate a 75% water sale surcharge over a period of up to eight years. Depending on available infrastructures, it might also provide water for all of Fulton County in the event of an emergency.
The county’s current 20-year water agreement with Toledo, which also covers the the areas named and is set to expire in 2036, would be nullified under the new agreement. 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.
The Fulton County communities of Ottokee and Tedrow are provided water from Wauseon, and Pettisville and Elmira/Burlington from Archbold.
Commissioner Jon Rupp said the county explored other water sources “but, expense-wise, it was better to stay with the regional water group. And they’ve come a long way, making sure everybody is treated equally and water rates are stabilized.”
Rupp said the decision to join the regional water commission was not easy, given that the contract is for 40 years.
“We would be outside, and wouldn’t experience the water stabilization rates they’re offering. In the long-term it’s going to be beneficial to be part of this group,” he said. “It looks like it’s going to be a good partnership.“
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.