Steady rates, $30M budget for water, sewer district

The Northwestern Water and Sewer District has approved a $30 million capital budget for this year, and announced that there will be no rate increase for 2021.

The board of trustees acted on the budget at its Dec. 17 meeting.

Tom Stalter, district manager of engineering, gave the Wood County commissioners an annual update of what has been accomplished this year and what is planned for 2001.

“We’re busy, we’re growing,” Stalter told commissioners at their Dec. 17 meeting.

Ninety-five projects have been worked on this past year or are still being finished including getting the Lemoyne Road 1.5-million gallon water tower online; replacing the sewer lines in Eagle Point; replacing the water meters in Weston; replacing the water and sewer lines on Diamond Road; work at Amazon, First Solar, NSG Pilkington; and replacing the prewar water line at Ampoint.

Regarding the water tower, “that’s been talked about for a long time,” he said. “We’re finally replacing it.”

The tower will serve Walbridge, Rossford, parts of Northwood, and townships in northern Wood County.

Ongoing projects include within the village of Luckey, Portage and Florida in Henry County, as well as at Otterbein Pemberville SeniorLife Community.

The 2021 capital budget include $19 million in total water projects and $11 million to invest in the wastewater network across the district’s five-county service area.

Major projects for 2021 include water line extensions, Stalter said.

The district will spend $5 million to get water from Weston west to McClure then north across the Maumee River to Liberty Center, which currently gets its water from Napoleon.

The district hopes to build a water line from North Baltimore to McComb, where the sewer system will be upgraded.

Also Thursday, the district’s board of trustees passed a resolution to sign an agreement with North Baltimore as a water source for southern Wood County and northern Wood County including McComb, Stalter said.

“That could be a long-term solution for McComb,” he said.

The 1930s-era sewer system also will be rebuilt. In many cases, there is no sewer left, just a hole in the ground, he said.

One of the large projects this year will be purchasing property and moving the Ford Road pump station.

Now located in Belmont, it is very old and dangerous and cannot be accessed very well, Stalter said.

A new pump station also is planned in Willowbend in Middleton Township, which has 800-900 homes flowing into it.

Lead service lines also continue to be replaced, Stalter said.

The Environmental Protection Agency is offering $20 million a year in grants to replace lead service lines.

“We were too proactive and did most of ours already,” he reported.

Some still remain in the system, but they don’t know where they are, Stalter said.

The EPA has ordered the district to build a $1.6-million sewer project in Sugar Ridge, and $919,000 in grant money has secured and he believes another grant can be used to pay the balance.

Three pump stations will be replaced in Cygnet.

Capital spending in the past decade has nearly doubled, Stalter said, from $12.5 million in 2010 to $20.6 million in 2020.

In the past 11 years, the district has invested $172 million in water and sewer projects, he reported.

As for economic development, the NorthPoint Development in North Baltimore is growing and the sewer and water lines are in place. Stalter said he anticipates there will be more phases at that location soon.

“I’m getting more calls about potential warehouse development on Route 582,” he added.

Also Thursday, district trustees passed its water and sewer rate resolution, keeping rates unchanged in 2021. Depending on location, some district water customers may see increases in their water rates if their treatment providers raise rates, including Bowling Green, Oregon and Toledo, Stalter said.

He said a lot of debt being paid and economic development in the area has kept rates flat.

District board member William Hirzel told commissioners the flat rate was due to the district growing and spreading its expenses among more customers.

His goal is to get everyone in Wood County to be part of the district.

“It’s going to be very interesting the next 20 years for us,” Stalter said.

The district is working with Erie, Sandusky, Ottawa, Seneca, Fulton and Defiance counties.

“The nice thing about being a district is we go past those lines on a map,” he said.

Hirzel said it the recent talks with Toledo have been very educational.

“We can see better where our future (water) supply is,” he said.

Commissioner Doris Herringshaw asked how many communities still use a lagoon system.

Stalter said Jerry City/Cygnet, Wayne/Bradner, Luckey, Custar and Hoytville all have one.

“Lagoons get laughed at but they’re really a great way to treat (wastewater). It’s all natural, there’s no operation involved in it. There is only discharge when there is high flow in the streams so there is extreme dilution before you’re allowed the discharge.

“They really do work well for these small communities.”

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