Head of Toledo water treatment plant issues resignation

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) - Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins has confirmed David Leffler, the commissioner of Toledo's troubled water treatment plant, will resign effective Sept. 1.

Mayor Collins says Leffler gave the decision Monday by phone.  Collins had requested the resignation, saying he'd lost confidence in Leffler's ability to carry out policy and facilitate the city's vision and policy.

Collins says this is a result of a letter he received from the Ohio EPA before Toledo's water crisis. He says conversations he had with Leffler and other plant managers about that letter left him concerned.

"I have to have a water plant that is capable of providing sound water, high quality water, for the next 75 years because this investment is probably going to exceed $400 million when it's all said and done," the mayor said.

Until Sept. 1, Leffler remains on sick leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The interim manager at the water treatment plant is Tim Murphy, from the Department of Environmental Services. Murphy says he has been acting commissioner since the water crisis, when Leffler was on vacation.

"What I bring to the table is extensive knowledge of the regulatory side of the Ohio EPA and a great relationship, actually, working relationship with them," Murphy said.

Mayor Collins says he's also considering breaking the Department of Public Utilities into three operations: water distribution, water treatment, and storm and sewer operations. Each division would have its own director, thus splitting the work load between three people.

Councilwoman Lindsay Webb says it could help.

"We need to have the best quality people that we can," she said. "My information is that we have basically one engineer at the water facility and so if that person gets hit by a bus, we would be shut down because we don't have the engineering capability at the water treatment plant."

Councilman Mike Craig says he thinks the division would make things run more smoothly, and Councilman Tom Waniewski says while he feels confident in the people that work for the Department of Public Utilities, he is concerned the job may be too much for one director.

A decision won't be made until after the city receives results from a performance audit in November.

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