Officials from Wood and Ottawa counties were presented alternative proposals Monday for linking their respective water distribution systems with an estimated starting price tag of $4.5 million.
A study by Poggemeyer Design Group discussed during last week’s meeting of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District includes two primary alternatives for extending waterlines from Ottawa County to Wood County.
The study estimates construction costs would be about $4.5 million to extend a 12-inch water main in Ottawa County that serves the Brush Wellman plant near the intersection of state routes 105 and 590 to an industrial site in Troy Township in Wood County – a distance of about 15 miles.
That scenario, according to the study, would be sufficient for supplying 500,000 gallons a day to users in Wood County.
An alternative, capable of meeting a demand of 1 to 2 million gallons daily, would be to link the 12-inch line serving Brush Wellman with a 16-inch line to the Troy Township site.
That alternative includes estimated construction costs of $5.25 million for the 15 miles of 16-inch line; a booster pump station at Brush Wellman costing about $500,000, and another booster station and a 2-million-gallon clear well reservoir at Oak Harbor that would cost about $1.75 million – for a total construction cost of $7.5 million.
Typically, project costs are 20 to 25 percent higher than construction costs, the study says.
The likely primary route for the main line would be along State Route 105 to State Route 51, to Witty Road, and then to Trapp Road to U.S. 23 and U.S. 20.
Another alternative would be to extend a 36-inch main line from Ottawa County’s Regional Water Treatment Plant in Port Clinton to the Troy Township site – about 30 miles – and replacing a main feed line to northern Oak Harbor.
The estimated construction cost would be about $27.5 million: $19.8 million for the 30 miles of 36-inch line; $2.45 million for seven miles of 16-inch line to Oak Harbor; $2.5 million for two pump stations, and $3 million for a 5 million gallon ground-level storage tank.
The study concludes that the proposed linking of the systems is “economically feasible” but it “needs to be evaluated as compared to other potential source supplies and their respective costs. What this brief report does show is that economies of scale create a significant impact on the potential cost of water even when faced with significant new debt to implement the concept.”
The Northwestern district currently purchases water from the cities of Oregon and Toledo and serves about 20,000 customers in Wood County.
The Ottawa County Regional Water System includes a treatment plant in Port Clinton with a capacity of 9 million gallons a day. Currently, peak usage is 5 million to 6 million gallons a day
The system services more than 9,300 parcels and three municipal water systems: City of Port Clinton, Village of Oak Harbor, and the Lakeside community. Its service area covers parts or all of seven townships.
Kelly Frey, Ottawa County Sanitary Engineer, said the system is well suited for selling its excess capacity. Water sales to Wood County wouldn’t be conditional, such as being tied to tax-sharing or economic development agreements, he said.
“If we can get enough parties interested then it becomes viable,” he said, adding even Ottawa County villages such as Elmore and Genoa may find it feasible to link to an expanded county system.
Elmore has its own municipal well system and Genoa purchases its water from Oregon.
In Wood County, the City of Rossford was involved in a contract dispute with Toledo last year over a rate hike and efforts by Toledo to increase its share of Rossford income tax collected in a Joint Economic Development Zone agreement. The JEDZ area is serviced by Toledo water.
Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown said water contracts with Toledo have been too costly.
“With water contracts from Toledo marking up the cost of water to between 50-125 percent on our citizens and demanding 40 percent of the taxes generated from water customers who create jobs, we must look at any options available to us,” he said. “Our citizens deserve nothing less. We are hopeful that Toledo’s new mayor will be more open to regional cooperation – and have had positive indications from him that he is willing to be more engaged in working with us. But for now all options are on the table and more are being explored.”