What Toledo suburbs are saying

Bryan Times, Aug. 11, 2018 (report by Ron Osburn, Michindoh plan discussed)  Following a meeting of two dozen representatives of entities and communities interested in purchasing water from the Michindoh aquifer, Mayor Richard Carr of Maumee said “This meeting was about how we proceed to make a decision and what must be considered.  Among the steps to be taken will be to retain an independent expert to review future test results in response to concerns of Williams County residents that the plan would negatively impact them.”

Carr said meeting attendees recognize there is opposition from Williams County residents to the plan.  “Those in attendance take this process extremely seriously, including concerns expressed by Williams County residents.  Retaining an independent expert to perform an analysis of the tests to assure the aquifer can meet the needs of all involved without being a threat to Williams County residents is very important.  That is the best way to proceed,” Carr said.

 

Toledo Blade, Aug. 12, 2018 (report by Tom Henry, Bryan residents upset by aquifer plan)  Nearly 60,000 of Toledo’s 500,000 metro-area customers affected by the 2014 water crisis live in Perrysburg, Sylvania, or Maumee.  They and thousands more people from Whitehouse, Henry and Fulton counties, and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District are now eyeing the Michindoh Aquifer as a potential source of fresh water, free from future algal dangers.

For Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough, the 2014 crisis was the final straw.  He began speaking with other mayors about forming a regional water authority and trying to get Toledo to be part of it right after that.

Now with Toledo in the midst of a $500 million upgrade to its water treatment plant, leaders from the Toledo area pledged in January to form a regional water authority in order to give the suburbs more say in future water-management decisions.  But the authority proposal is at a stalemate now, with a majority of Toledo council members opposed.

Mike Beazley, a senior policy adviser to Mr. Kapszukiewicz, has said Toledo-area leaders want to ensure they, too, have plenty of access to safe and reliable drinking water — including a back-up water source in the event of another algal crisis.

He also has said Toledo utility officials don’t believe the Michindoh Aquifer can meet needs of the suburbs permanently.

Bryan Times, Sept. 8, 2018 (report by Jen Lazenby, Henry County commits to study as a potential customer) The Henry County Regional Water and Sewer District Board of Trustees Wednesday approved an agreement which would commit $25,000 to the testing and studying of the Michindoh aquifer as a potential water source for a new ground water plant, plus would have the district leading the project.

Rex Huffman, who is the legal counsel for the district, presented an agreement to the board which he explained as an expansion of the cooperative agreement already existing between the district and Liberty Center.

Liberty Center and the district, which both currently purchase water from the City of Napoleon, have a cooperative agreement to look for a new water source and have a lease-to-purchase agreement for 40 acres of property in Washington Township, where two test wells were drilled. However, as dialogue between the City of Toledo and its satellite customers regarding setting up a water authority broke down, those satellites expressed interest in joining the project, which would require a larger water source than could be supported by the aquifer in Henry County.

Kidston has started the process to apply for well site acceptance from the environmental Protection Agency, according to Henry County Planning Director Nick Rettig.

According to Huffman, Liberty Center, Maumee and Perrysburg have already signed the agreement, while it’s expected the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, Whitehouse and Sylvania will also officially sign the document.

The agreement commits each entity to provide $25,000 toward the cost of the test wells and study. If all seven entities participate, that would be $175,000, which Huffman said would cover the anticipated $75,000 for the contract with AOP. The remaining funds will be used to pay Poggemeyer Design Group to expand a study it already prepared for the district to determine the transmission and treatment costs if a plant was to be constructed, as well as seek a second opinion from a hydrologist.

“We already know from the aquifer to Whitehouse, that’s double,” Huffman said of the transmission costs. “This might be a different route depending on who the parties are.

“In my view, that’s going to be the critical part of this equation,” Huffman said of the study. “Among the political subdivisions, the consensus was we wanted the governmental entities to control that part of the study, not the consultant.

Huffman said the final study will include the Michindoh aquifer information but will also include other options to purchase water from throughout the region.

“When you bring this all together as a region, that’s what’s going to have some value,” Huffman said.

One element of the original agreement between the district and Liberty Center that will remain the same is the district will lead the project.

“You would contract with AOP to do that well field study … we would modify our agreement with Poggemeyer Design Group to expand that study for the transmission of that water,” Huffman said, adding it will be important to keep communication open with all of the entities involved, but it will be the water and sewer board making the decisions. “It’s going to be your project, and you’ll have those funds.

“You’re going to get this report done. You’re going to give them good numbers so that they can, as a council or district, make a good decision on whether to proceed or not to proceed, with the Michindoh aquifer,” he continued.

Opposition has been voiced by numerous residents and communities such as Bryan over the possibility of a regional plant being supplied by the Michindoh aquifer, and Huffman said he expects that to continue.

“My guess is the folks in Williams County and other areas might not be so thrilled, so you’re going to expect to have some pushback like the Washington Township project,” Huffman said, adding the availability of water, quality of water, treatment costs and transmission costs are the first items which need to be determined. “Ultimately you’ll decide whether your customers have a better opportunity to get water at another location than what you’ve got right now.”

The Henry County Water and Sewer Board of Trustees overseas the district, which includes all of the unincorporated areas of Henry County except Ridgeville Township and Providence Township located in Lucas County.

As this project develops, Rettig said discussions will continue as to possible changes to the makeup of the board, such as adding more members to ensure better representation of those involved.

 

Bryan Times, Oct. 6, 2018 (report by Ron Osburn, Consortium partners agree to fund AOP aquifer test drilling)  Artesian of Pioneer now has an agreement to go forward with drilling test wells into the Michindoh aquifer.

On Wednesday, a consortium of seven entities approved a $164,114 test well agreement with AOP.  The agreement was signed by the Henry County Regional Water and Sewer Board of Trustees on behalf of the board, the villages of Whitehouse and Liberty Center, the cities of Maumee, Sylvania and Perrysburg and the Bowling Green-based Northwestern Water and Sewer District.

Maumee, Sylvania and Perrysburg, among some other entities, have been considering alternate drinking water sources after a falling out with the city of Toledo.

The signing came after a Tuesday closed-to-the-public meeting in which AOP Owner Ed Kidston provided an update to those present, which included representatives of the seven entities, along with Fulton County and possibly others.  Tuesday’s meeting followed a similar closed meeting held in August in Wauseon.  The meetings are exempt from Ohio Open Meetings Act laws because they do not include a quorum of elected officials from any of the entities.

The agreement signed Wednesday is a three-phase agreement, with the first phase to “drill, screen and develop five-inch observation wells … in four to six locations; test pump an existing 12-inch well at a high rate; monitor the effects of the test pumping and take readings as a preliminary report,” according to the agreement.

Phase I is “a very preliminary stage to see if we can go to the next step,” Kidston told The Bryan Times Friday.  He declined to confirm if the testing will be done on property he purchase at the end of last year on Fulton County Road J, just west of Ohio 66, in Franklin Township, near Archbold, but did say test well location “is in western Fulton County.”

He said the testing location was chosen because “based on best science so far, it’s the water source closest to the customers, in the qualities we need.”  But he cautioned that “it’s a fluid situation, and that location could change after the first (test) well, depending on the results.”

After the Phase I testing, “my hydrologist will give the results to their hydrologist and their hydrologist will compare the results from our testing … we’ll even give it to the EPA,” Kidston said.

Kidston said this process of drilling test wells is one he’s very familiar with.  “We’ve done this 100 times … we’re trying to find the sweet spot,” he said, adding that he’s seeking “anywhere from 3 (million to 15 million gallons a day.  But we expect to find a lot more.”

Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough, who is chairing the closed meetings, termed Tuesday’s meeting “a good meeting.  I think we’re making progress.”

He said discussion centered not only on the Michindoh Aquifer as a possible drinking water option, but on several other options that the entities are considering, including possible agreements with Monroe County, Michigan, the city of Detroit, or with Toledo.

“Discussion was held (Tuesday) that assures the Michindoh study will move ahead in a way that assures all participants that it’s feasible and that water can be taken out of (the Michindoh) without damaging the current water tables,” Stough told the Bryan Times Friday.

Kidston said an initial agreement was considered about two years ago between AOP and Henry County Regional Water and Sewer and Liberty Center.  But Kidston said that while the amount of water those two entities needed was not financially viable, it was closer with the addition of Whitehouse.

Friday, he said he has reason to believe Fulton County would be interested in joining, though officials there have maintained a low profile in discussions.  Kidston said those four entities could make a Michindoh water plan financially viable, even if the Toledo-area communities and/or the Northwestern Water and Sewer District drops out.

“As we collect more information, we’ll modify the plan going forward,” he said.  “One thing I will say is that whatever we’ll find, we’re letting the Toledo folks pay for some valuable information.

“I will say this, this (Phase I) step tells us a lot.  It’ll tell us one of two things: one, whether we’re barking up the wrong tree and it’s not going to work, or two, it’s promising enough to go to the next step,” Kidston said.

Kidston said he expects Phase I to take about three months.

Henry County water and Sewer District attorney Rex Huffman said Wednesday the idea is to test the aquifer “to see whether this Michindoh Aquifer is a viable water supply for some or all of these partners.  To do that, we first need to determine the capacity of that aquifer to make sure there’s an adequate supply there and the aquifer can withstand the demand of some or all of these customers.”

The initial test or observation wells do not require EPA approval.  But the agreement states that if the initial tests prove promising, AOP will move into Phase II, which begins with filing a well site application for a new public water system with the Ohio EPA.

The Henry County water and sewer board has also received proposals from Eagon & Associates to provide hydrogeologic consulting services and Poggemeyer Design Group to calculate the cost of transporting water from the potential plant to all of the customers.

Eagon’s proposal is for $39,904 and includes reviewing and commenting on AOP’s proposed scope of work, oversight of field data collection and then reviewing and commenting on AOP’s findings and conclusions and providing recommendations to the district.

“We’re going to have to decide whether (Kidston’s) information is reliable, so we’ve already retained Eagon & Associates to help advise you … and verify this information” Huffman said at Wednesday’s meeting, noting Kidston has already hired a different hydrogeologist.  “They’re two folks that I think we can have some confidence in that if they conclude this is viable project, it will be a viable project,” he said.

The proposal from Poggemeyer Design Group is for $46,000.

Between the AOP agreement ($164,114) and proposals from Poggemeyer and Eagon, the cost could total approximately $250,000, or between $35,000-36,000 for each of the seven entities.]

The Michindoh Aquifer stretches an estimated 2.3 million acres across nine counties in three states, including virtually all of Williams County, providing water to about 400,000 people.

Users within the aquifer withdraw an estimated 75 million gallons daily, including about 2.5 million gallons daily in Bryan and about 350,000 gallons a day in Montpelier.