County to pay less for water

Contract renewal approved

By David J. Coehrs -

Fulton County will pay less for water supplied by the City of Toledo, according to a 20-year renewal contract to be inked with Lucas County.

Toledo City Council last Tuesday approved the deal to provide Fulton County with water through the city’s agreement with Lucas County. It will generate the city $2.3 million in 2016, $400,000 less than last year.

The original water agreement with Lucas County was arranged in 1996 for the purchase of up to 12 million gallons per day.

In the renewal agreement, Lucas County agreed to move Fulton County to a third declining block rate with a 75 percent surcharge after Fulton County officials suggested they might look for a cheaper water deal through Wauseon and Archbold. In a third declining block rate, the more water Fulton County uses the less it will pay per 1,000 gallons.

The agreement also stipulates that Fulton County cannot try to lure businesses away from Toledo.

According to County Public Utilities Director Ziad Musallam, the water supplies North Star Bluescope Steel outside of Delta, the Swancreek Water District, and the Northeast Water System, which includes Metamora and Amboy, Fulton, and Royalton townships, the latter township east of Lyons. Toledo currently charges the county $5.30 per 1,000 gallons prior to its operation and maintenance costs. The county’s sale price to Northeast Water System is $10.61 per 1,000 gallons after operation and maintenance costs and debt service.

The county also provides treated water to unincorporated areas at a price based on individual inside rate plus a 50 percent surcharge.

Musallam said over the life of the original contract Toledo adopted various annual inside rate increases of between four percent and 13.2 percent that were passed onto customers. The city draws its water from Lake Erie and treats it before sending it to Fulton County.

In 2011, county officials were approached by Archbold to provide water to North Star and to residents. The village water treatment plant’s current approved capacity is five million gallons per day.

Fulton County Administrator Vond Hall said to get the plant’s High Rated capacity of 7.5 million gallons per day would require a study to gain Ohio Environmental Protection Agency approval. Getting approval might also mean installing a larger pump at the the Tiffin River, where the village draws its water. Additional upgrades would also be needed.

Hall said that in 2012 the county hired American StructurePoint to to evaluate the feasibility of Fulton County creating a regional water district. In that scenario, the county would buy water from Archbold, Fayette, and Wauseon and distribute it to Lyons, Swanton, Metamora, and the Swancreek Water District through county-owned equipment.

Hall said a regional water district could have been possible.

Don Moline, a Toledo public utilties administrator, said the non-compete contract includes a proviso that Fulton County cannot attempt to lure away the city’s businesses with promises of lower water rates.

Lucas County and Fulton County negotiated the contract renewal for a year before its approval.

“Nobody got all they wanted, but they got a good contract,” Moline said.

Hall said overall the county is pleased with the new contract. “The new rate structure should help stabilize the rate for the steel mill to help them remain competitive in the market place,” he said.

Contract renewal approved

By David J. Coehrs

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.