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Fulton County Water For Napoleon A Question Of Finances, Politics

Napoleon could get drinkable water from Fulton County, but first some financial and political questions must be answered.

That’s what representatives from Archbold and Wauseon said when contacted Monday.

Fulton County commissioners authorized a study to look into creating a countywide water district, after the City of Toledo and Lucas County began looking into such a district.

Fulton County buys potable (treated) water from the City of Toledo to serve water systems in eastern Fulton County and the North Star Bluescope Steel plant at Delta.

Napoleon has an aging water plant that has about three years of life left. Replacing the plant could cost $12 to $18 million.

“We need to look at different alternatives,” said Ron Behm, Napoleon mayor.

Excess Capacity

When it comes to producing finished water for Napoleon, Archbold alone could supply the city.

Dennis Howell, Archbold village administrator, said Archbold has a rated capability of producing 7.6 million gallons of potable water per day, or mgd.

The current demand is about 1.9 mgd.

That leaves 5.7 mgd in excess capacity, more than enough to handle Napoleon’s demand for water, which averages about 1.34 mgd.

Howell pointed out the Archbold figures aren’t just plant capacity. They’re system capacity, which includes raw water supply.

Dennis Richardson, City of Wauseon public services director, said that community’s plant has 2 mgd of excess capacity.

“In terms of production capacity, the City of Wauseon and the Village of Archbold could do it (supply Napoleon) easily,” Howell said.

Howell and Richardson agreed that, technically, it is possible for the two communities to supply water to Napoleon.

“It’s all very doable, in terms of engineering and capacity,” Howell said.

However, both said there are other questions that must be answered.

Finances, Politics

There are no estimates on what it would cost to construct the necessary pipelines and other infrastructure (i.e., pumping stations, valves, meters, etc.) to carry potable water to Napoleon from Archbold and Wauseon.

“We need to see that before we make a decision,” Howell said.

Then, there are the politics.

“Is it technically feasible (to supply Napoleon with water)? Yes,” Richardson said.

“But there are a lot of politics to work out.

“Are the Napoleon folks going to go for it? I don’t know.

“Are they willing to relinquish the power to make their own water? People get stubborn.”

However, Richardson pointed out Wauseon and Napoleon “are already living proof that two communities can come together” over a water project.

Currently, a pipeline is in place between Wauseon and Napoleon. Following an old railroad right-of-way, it carries raw river water from Napoleon’s water intake on the Maumee river to Wauseon reservoirs.

If Wauseon needs to refi ll the reservoirs, and if water in the Maumee is of sufficient quality, the crew at the Napoleon plant will turn on their pumps during the night, when electricity is cheaper.

River water is pumped through the underground pipeline, filling the reservoirs.

Conversely, if, Napoleon can’t draw raw water from the river, it can draw water out of Wauseon reservoirs to supply its needs.

Richardson said if the Fulton County communities supply potable water to Napoleon, there would have to be an agreement, with appropriate checks and balances established.


If it is financially feasible, Howell said a finished water pipeline from Archbold to Wauseon could tap into a 20- inch underground waterline that crosses West Barre Road at the Norfolk-Southern railroad spur track crossing.

It could extend east on Barre Road, which becomes Co. Rd. C, right up to the Wauseon water treatment plant.

From there, a finished water pipe could go to Napoleon along the same right-of-way as the raw water line.

There would be other advantages. Along the way to Wauseon, it would be easy to add a second supply line to Pettisville, complementing the one that follows St. Rt. 2 to the unincorporated community.

A second supply line would improve the fire protection capacity of the distribution system in Pettisville.

Plus, if the Archbold water treatment plant begins producing more water, it can be operated more efficiently.

“It’s the rule of manufacturing; the more you make of something, the cheaper you can make it,” Howell said.


Ziad Musallam, director of the Fulton County Public Utilities Department, said the first phase of a study to establish a countywide water district has been completed.

Phase Two would see the development of cost estimates and rough plans for pipelines and other infrastructure.

Musallam said the commissioners are waiting for feedback on the first phase of the study before moving forward with Phase Two.

“I think it’s worthwhile to do the study,” Howell said.

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