News Feature | January 17, 2017

After Algae Crisis, Toledo Considers Regional Water System

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

toledo.reg

The Ohio city that made national news over two years ago during its algae crisis is considering ways to strengthen the resiliency of its water system.

The crux of the Toledo’s water debate is over whether the city should be part of a regional water system. On January 10, Toledo’s city council threw its support behind entering such a system, according to the Toledo Blade.

Backers say the algae crisis, which led to a full tap water ban in Toledo, “reignited” concerns about Toledo relying on a single water plant, the Blade reported. “Those concerns, along with the fact that most of Toledo’s nine customer contracts will expire in the 2020s, have brought all parties back to the table to discuss forming a regional water authority,” the report said.

Joining a regional water system presents Toledo with pros and cons.

“Equalizing rates for all stakeholders likely would mean higher rates for Toledo. But refusing to participate in the regional system could leave the city without suburban customers for its water, meaning the city would be responsible for a higher share of maintaining the aging Collins Park Water Treatment Plant,” the Blade reported.

The poor condition of Toledo's water treatment plant played a key role in the city's struggle with algae, which resulted in a water ban for 400,000 people in August 2014.

The "silent deterioration" of the city’s Collins Park Water Treatment Plant was a big part of the problem, according to the Toledo Blade, which cited an "extensive backlog of delayed repairs at the plant" and "an extensive paper trail of city water-plant problems cited by” state environmental regulators.

According to the Blade: “Toledo’s suburban customers believe they are paying too much for water, while Toledo officials want credit for the work and past investment Toledo taxpayers put in — and the debt they’ve taken on — to own and operate the plant and its infrastructure.”

“The next step is to figure out a governing structure that would give Toledo’s suburbs and outlying communities a say while recognizing Toledo’s ownership and investment in the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant,” the report said.

To read more about financing for water services visit Water Online’s Funding Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Toledo," Kevin Martini © 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/