Nine County (3-States) Coalition

Bryan Times July 23, 2018 (report by Don Koralewski, Commissioners see Michindoh as regional resource): The nine counties that draw water from the Michindoh are: Branch, Hillsdale and Lenawee in Michigan; Steuben and DeKalb in Indiana; and Williams, Fulton, Henry and Defiance in Ohio.
To date there hasn’t been any official communication or coordination of information about the aquifer crossing county or state lines.

That may change soon as Williams County Commissioners have begun a process to share information and facilitate a nine-county discussion between county governments about the aquifer and the current plans to draw and sell millions of gallons of water daily.

Commission Vice President Terry Rummel agreed that the engagement with other counties was important, but added that the aquifer could also benefit from additional dedicated manpower and resources. Rummel put forward the idea of hiring a county hydrologist, and that all concerned counties consider water well monitoring systems.

 

Bryan Times Aug. 14, 2018 (report by Don Koralewski, Aquifer topic of meeting attended by seven counties) Elected representatives from seven of the nine counties in three states that draw their water from the Michindoh aquifer met in Williams County on Thursday afternoon to get familiar (with) the issues presented by a major plan to draw millions of gallons of water daily from the aquifer.

It’s been estimated that residences, farms and industry in the three-state region draw about 75 million gallons of water daily from the Michindoh, and a plan put forward by Artesian of Pioneer (AOP) could draw up to 14 million more to provide water to communities surrounding Toledo.

“Some were unaware of the extent (of the AOP proposal), or public sentiment,” Brian Davis said. “We all agree that we need to work together.”

Prior to Thursday’s meeting, there had been little communication between affected counties or across state lines regarding the potential aquifer draw. Davis characterized the meeting as a first step in a process that could have governments working together and bringing resources together.

 

Bryan Times, Aug. 25, 2018 (report by Don Koralewski, Counties to discuss aquifer use) Representatives from the nine counties that draw from the Michindoh aquifer will meet again on Sep.t 10 to discuss a formal, unified response to plans to draw and sell aquifer water to communities surrounding Toledo.

A request for a formal meeting of the counties came from Defiance County Commissioner Ryan Mack this week. In correspondence to Williams County Commissioners, Mack requested that a meeting be planned that included voting majority members from each affected county “So that individually and as a whole votes can be taken on allocation of funds, and to decide certain legal matters.”

Mack suggested an agenda that included:

  • discussion of joint funding of a study to be done by the United States Geological Survey (USGS):
  • Discussion of the possibility of forming an actual joint board to monitor their shared resource (the Michindoh aquifer) into the future;
  • Discussion of joint allocation of funding for the retention of legal representation for a multi-jurisdictional/multi-state body
  • Or, discussion as to whether legal issues could be handled through county prosecutors’ offices, and:
  • Any other matters that may arise.

The meeting being planned in Williams County for Sept. 10 is expected to be a meeting open to the public, and a meeting whereby a unified voice from multiple jurisdictions is expected to go on the record with regard to aquifer drilling plans.

Additionally, Williams County Commissioner Brian Davis said gathered commissioners may develop a plan for going forward that may include shared resources for the services of hydrologists and other specialists to get a solid understanding of the capacities and limits to the Michindoh aquifer.

 

Bryan Times, Sept. 11, 2018 (report by Josh Ewers, Counties meet about Michindoh) Total cost for aquifer information amalgamation, mapping and subsequent computerized groundwater flow simulations was stated at $100,000 by USGA officials, a total that would be reduced to $70,000 after matching grants by the federal government.
That cost would potentially be split, depending on ability and desire, among interested counties, representatives from each of which will bring the proposal back to their own boards for discussion and/or a vote in the short term.

… Officials tentatively discussed the hiring of a private consultant to analyze the information gathered and provide guidance to the group of county officials.

Before anyone from the government or a consultant can be hired, county officials indicated there is still more research to be done as far as officially and legally forming the entity, determining which county’s auditor would lead the financial component, determining what authority such a group would have and other organizational considerations.

We can form a tri-state committee all day long, but whether that committee has the legal authority to purchase a study of that nature is the real question, and collect money as an entity, write checks,” said Defiance County Commissioner Ryan Mack.
“That’s where I think we’d need either the states to get together and talk and create something together or we need to get our federal representatives on board and pass some legislation for us.”

No timetable was given on the group’s next meeting. Several of the officials also expressed interest in a long-term water level monitoring commitment proposed by the Watsons that goes beyond the issue at hand, with the Watsons touting the economic boon of such an endeavor with businesses looking for a location, among other concerns of conservancy and planning.
“It’s so you can see you have room to grow, or hear that train’s whistle blowing, said Rob Watson. “It’s to give yourselves time to react.”

Jim Watson indicated his wish for the agricultural community to come forward and potentially aid in the coming operations with wells they may already have. He also called for cooperation among all parties moving forward.

“Forever, folks, is a hell of a long time. We have to start planning for that,” said Jim Watson. “We need to bring in all the players.”