City council looks closely at new regional water plan

City council looks closely at new regional water plan

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - It's being called one of the biggest decisions facing our community.

Regional water is something that's been talked about for decades, but could soon see some action.

City leaders dug into Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz's proposal Thursday to decide their next steps.

The topic of regional water began early this year with the Toledo Area Water Authority.

After Toledoans voiced their concerns, the mayor proposed a second plan just days ago. Toledo city council members dug deep into what his plan entails.

"We have talked for decades, it's time to act," said Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. "There's still work to do. I'll be the first to admit that this proposal, as any proposal developed by human beings, may not be perfect, but it's a good proposal."

The mayor's new regional water plan allows the city of Toledo to maintain ownership of Collins Park Water Treatment Plant and maintain its day-to-day operations.

If voters approve the plan, it would create a Regional Water Commission that would set rates and capital improvements.

City council, under the mayor's plan, would have the authority to veto rates. The commission would be made up of two Toledo members and one public utility director from every participating community.

The new plan will also include a lead service line replacement, water affordability and senior water discount programs.

It's a plan some Toledoans are hopeful will be passed.

"As you all know, it's not everything that we wanted," said Steve Kowalik with Protect Our Water Coalition. "But the mayor's plan puts all of Toledo and the suburbs in a better place."

"I just wanted to urge my support to this council to put the mayor's proposal, the regional water commission, on the ballot this November where I believe it will pass because I believe it is a good deal for Toledo and a good deal for the suburbs," explained Sean Nestor, a member of Protect Our Water Coalition.

Others at Thursdays meeting were less than thrilled with the new plan.

"Toledo should have more votes in this whole process for a very simple reason," said Toledo resident David Neuendorff. "We represent most of the people involved."

"We're asking for you to follow through on the process," said Wendy Gramza, president of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce. "You're looking at a plan B, but you haven't dealt with plan A. Let's deal with plan A and move on to plan B."

City council members asked a number of questions of the mayor's proposal regarding water rates, a second water source and specifics on the wording of the charter amendment. They say progress was made, but there's still work to do.

"A charter change means we're making decisions that have really long lasting affects," said Toledo city council member Sandy Spang. "So, it's incumbent on us to be really wise about that."

"We've been swimming upstream for a long time," said Tom Waniewski, a member of Toledo city council. "I think this at least gets us in the right direction. Now is it the final say so, I think that has yet to be determined and council will continue to debate that."

City council has to pass an ordinance by September to place the charter amendment on the ballot. If that is done you will see regional water on ballot for a public vote this November.

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