Regional Water/ Update
–by Mayor Craig Stough
PUBLICATION DATE: 07.17.2018
After nearly two and a half years of negotiations, the city of Toledo has abruptly abandoned the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create the Toledo Area Water Authority (TAWA). The city of Toledo retreated to its longstanding position of maintaining a regional water monopoly rather than participating in the benefits of a regionally owned and professionally managed water system with more efficient operations, safer redundant water sources and lower prices.
The actual terms and pricing for purchasing water from Toledo first must be voted on by Toledo City Council and Toledo residents. We are hopeful the two and a half years negotiating the MOU have not been wasted, and current income tax sharing requirements and water surcharges will be a thing of the past. We will evaluate Toledo’s offer once made. It could turn out to be the best option.
However, since Toledo unilaterally chose to keep the rest of us water customers subsidizing their water system, we are looking at other water supply sources, three of which weren’t even being evaluated until Toledo’s abrupt reversal.
For years, Sylvania’s only alternate water source was thought to be building our own Sylvania Lake Erie water intake and treatment plant in southeast Michigan. Sylvania has already acquired the property and easements to do this. Studies indicate the water price would vary greatly depending on how many neighboring communities join us in the new system, and it could take 10 to 20 years of higher water prices before our water bills would be consistently lower than Toledo’s.
Following Toledo’s abrupt reversal, however, two other water systems have offered to sell water to Sylvania – The Great Lakes Water Authority, which serves 137 southeast Michigan communities, and the city of Monroe. We would still be a customer in both cases, but studies are underway to determine rates. Either system could provide a much needed water source redundancy for the Toledo area.
Another water source being considered is the Michindoh Aquifer, a large underground water source beneath parts of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. A proposal is being considered to form a new regional water authority with more neighboring communities to our west. The new authority would build a new water system, owned by the participating communities, and be used to promote economic development in the region. Ground water under Sylvania is expensive to treat due to iron and sulfur content. But Michindoh Aquifer water is reportedly purer than Lake Erie water, consistently requires less treatment, is very abundant and is already being used in several communities. We are joining several other interested communities in a study to confirm these facts, estimate the cost and determine its viability for Sylvania.
Sylvania expects to spend the remainder of 2018 gathering all the necessary facts and assessing which of these options is best, not just for our residents, but for our region as a whole. Once the facts are in, we can make the right decision and move forward into the future.