Toledo water rate increase in the works

Toledo city council discussed the water system Tuesday.
Toledo city council discussed the water system Tuesday.

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) – Water rates may be going up for Toledo residents after concerns were raised over the city's water treatment plant.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report last month that found a lack of reliability in the city's Collins Park water treatment plant. From cracks in the pipes to pumps failing, the age and condition of the equipment could lead to what the EPA called an "unacceptable risk of system failure."

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell told the EPA Tuesday he will ask for a water rate increase to pay for the necessary repairs, even if it hurts his popularity.

"If we were going for popularity, then no, we're not going to bring this up," Bell said at a water treatment council meeting Tuesday. "But you're not going to be very popular [either] if you are aware that the system has problems and you are not prepared to address them, [or if] you're not telling people the truth about what needs to be done."

The mayor said there's no figure yet for how much of an increase he will ask for, but the 20-year master plan calls for $257 million in upgrades. He plans to present an ordinance to city council in January.

The council approved $2.8 million in improvements to the water treatment plant in their Tuesday meeting, and another $1.5 million for upgrades to the low service pump station. A low-interest loan is already being earmarked for a new roof and restoration of nearly the whole building at the treatment facility.

"And I will reinforce that this is extremely important, that we move right now," Bell said. "I realize it takes the vote of council to be able to move this thing forward, but we will bring them as much information as necessary."

Council member Rob Ludeman said he didn't vote for the last water rate increase, but he will study the mayor's proposal well to make sure he is a "good steward of the citizens' dollar."

Despite these problems, the mayor's office insists there have been no violations surrounding the quality of the city's drinking water.

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