Fulton County Commissioners are exploring the possibility of creating a countywide water district, which might include water service to the City of Napoleon.
The Fulton County examination into a countywide water district began after the City of Toledo and Lucas County began looking into creating a joint water district in late 2011.
Fulton County currently receives potable (treated for cooking, drinking, bathing, etc.) water from the City of Toledo for distribution in the Swan Creek water district, the county’s recently completed northeast water system, and for service to the North Star Steel mill west of Delta.
Ziam Musallam, director of the Fulton County Public Utilities department, said if Toledo and Lucas County agree to go forward with their regional water district, it would mean Fulton County officials would have to deal with an entirely new entity, rather than continuing the agreements that currently exist with the City of Toledo.
As a result, Musallam said early this year the commissioners decided to look into creating a Fulton County water district, served by Fulton County water resources.
Ron Behm, mayor of Napoleon, said Napoleon got involved in the project after the city began discussing what to do about its water plant.
“Napoleon is in the process of looking at rebuilding our current water treatment facility,” Behm said.
“We’ve been told we might be able to go three years putting band-aids on it.
“We’re spending a lot keeping the old plant going.
“The plant is so old we can’t just buy replacement parts.
“We have to have new ones machined.”
Rebuilding the old plant could cost between $12 million and $18 million. Water rates could rise between 50% and 60% if the city spends that much.
“We need to look at different alternatives,” Behm said.
Soon after he mentioned the situation in a speech, City of Defiance officials suggested that they could supply water to Napoleon.
Soon after that, he said Archbold expressed an interest in serving Napoleon.
“That opened some doors,” Behm said.
The Fulton County study, conducted by American Structurepoint, an engineering and architectural firm based in Indianapolis, Ind., looked at available water sources examining quantity, quality and price.
Musallam said the study revealed that there could be sufficient water, if water was taken from the Maumee River.
There is a pipeline that connects Napoleon and Wauseon.
Raw, untreated water is pumped from the river at Napoleon to Wauseon reservoirs.
Wauseon can use water from the river if needed.
If Maumee River water is unsuitable for treatment, Napoleon can draw water from the Wauseon reservoirs.
Musallam said water for Napoleon could be treated by the Wauseon or Archbold water treatment plants, then shipped back to that city via new pipelines.
Napoleon would not be part of the Fulton County water district. It would be a customer of the system, buying treated water.
If Fulton County went ahead with its own regional water system, Musallam said the current water connections with the City of Toledo would be converted to emergency supplies.
The first phase of the study, which was presented Tuesday, Oct. 2, did not look into the costs of new pipelines and other infrastructure costs.
Nor were potential water rates determined.
Those issues would be examined in a phase II study.
Musallam said this week, the commissioners are asking for feedback “to see what direction they want to go.”
There is no time frame or deadline for the second phase of the study.
But Behm said Napoleon is looking at a deadline.
“We have about a year to make a decision,” he said.
“We have a year before we have to decide we have to rebuild our plant.”