By DAVID GREEN
Does Fulton County have sufficient water resources to supply itself without the help of Toledo?
An update to the Fulton County Comprehensive Water Plan is expected to provide an answer to the question.
The county water plan was written in 1994 and updated in 2000 by the Finkbeiner, Pettis and Strout engineering firm (now known as Arcadis).
Because that firm has close ties with many area communities, an outside company was chosen for the next update, explained Fulton County public utilities director Ziad Musallam.
The county commissioners decided to go with a firm from outside the area to obtain a fair opinion, Musallam said, and chose the Columbus office of American StructurePoint.
A regional water plan would give the county control of it own water resources.
“We want to see if it’s viable to cut off from Toledo or whether we should stay with Toledo,” Musallam said. “We’re looking at local resources to see if could switch direction.”
Many areas of the county depend on water purchased from Toledo, but that’s not the case for Wauseon, Archbold and Fayette.
Wauseon obtains its water from surface water collection and Archbold treats water from the Tiffin River. Only Fayette has ample groundwater resources with a pair wells drilled into the Michindoh Aquifer, a massive water-bearing formation that serves nearly 20 communities in seven counties.
Musallam said that StructurePoint will first review the water resources of each community in the county. Although Archbold has sufficient water, and even sells water to several area communities, its resources are affected by seasonal and climate changes. During a drought in the 1980s, for example, reservoir levels fell dramatically.
In the peak demand months of the summer, Musallam said, Wauseon could have trouble meeting its needs during adverse weather.
Next, StructurePoint will examine the treatment capabilities of communities. In Archbold, water is available from the Tiffin River, but treatment costs are substantial before water is distributed for drinking.
Finally, the engineering firm will consider the current and long-term needs of each community in the county.
After StructurePoint presents its data on water inventory and needs, Musallam said the county commissioners will decide whether to move forward into a second phase of developing a regional water plan. That could include details such as the logistics of distributing water throughout the county.
The first phase is expected to be completed in June.
UPDATES—Since 2000 water plan update, Fulton County completed a water project in the northeast portion of the county to serve Metamora and Lyons with water from Lucas County. The project was aided by a $3.1 million grant in federal “stimulus funds” through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
A regional water service plan was also promoted through the establishment of a line to Tedrow through a connection to the Wauseon water system.
In addition to the northeast section and Tedrow, Winameg and Ai are listed in the 2000 plan as critical service areas.
The report concluded that Wauseon, Archbold, Delta, Fayette and Swanton will all have adequate water supplies throughout a 20-year period.
Providing municipal water service to new areas, the report stated, may create new sewage disposal challenges or amplify existing sewage problems.
With this in mind, the report suggested development of a comprehensive sewage plan.