TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - The city of Toledo is facing harsh criticism from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency about the condition of its water treatment system.
The mayor's office says this report backs up what they have been saying for the past few years about the city's water treatment plant needing significant repairs. One councilman says this should be a wake-up call for this to become priority number one for the city.
The Ohio EPA has issued two extremely critical reports about the condition of the city's water treatment plant, which spells out concerns about the system having an "unacceptable risk of system failure."
The report outlines a survey which identifies several areas of regulatory non-compliance and significant deficiencies of Toledo's Collins Park water treatment plant. The most serious is what the EPA calls a "lack of reliability due to age and condition of essential equipment, such as pumps, check valves, impellers and electrical equipment." The plant serves roughly 500,000 people in northwest Ohio on a daily basis with clean drinking water.
Over recent years, the city has been addressing needs at the plant, with plans for a $15 million project to build a new roof over the treatment areas. However, the EPA says the city's current 20-year draft timeline plan to address all concerns is unacceptable.
Councilman Mike Craig hopes the report will spark a new wave of action by city leaders.
"It's not going to be a popular thing, but this is something that really does need to be addressed," said Craig.
Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat says $55 million worth of improvements are in the works within the current rate structure, including a new roof.
"A new chlorine facility, a new electronic system to run the plant, those are some of the major projects we have under way," said Herwat.
Craig says the bottom line is water rates will have to be raised to meet the challenge ahead.
"As much as I hate to say it, there's probably going to have to be a rate hike. It is going to have to be probably sooner rather than later," said Craig.
While Toledo City Council has set a committee hearing for Monday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m., the mayor's office wants to assure its customers about the current water quality.
"It is safe to drink. We have never had a problem in the time we have operated the plant of producing unsafe water," said Herwat.