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Napoleon Staff Recommends Building New Water Plant, Not Using Fulton County Water

The decision isn’t final, but Jon Bisher, Napoleon city manager, and others are recommending Napoleon not turn to Fulton County for water.

Ron Behm, Napoleon mayor, said Bisher and his staff proposed the plan to build a new water treatment plant.

With Napoleon looking for a solution to problems of its aging water treatment plant, the City of Defiance and Fulton County offered to be Napoleon’s source for water.


Behm said Defiance operates the same type of plant as Napoleon, and is under the same Ohio Environmental Protection Agency mandates as Napoleon to reduce the levels of TTHM, or total trihalomethanes in drinking water.

Trihalomethanes are a byproduct of treating drinking water with chlorine.

In fact, Behm said Defi ance’s TTHM levels are higher than those produced by the old Napoleon plant.

Plus, he said, several Napoleon citizens had complained about the taste of Defiance water. One Defi- ance resident had written him a letter, pointing out the poor quality of Defiance water.

Fulton County

The Fulton County proposal was “kind of eliminated because we went to that meeting with Fulton County, and they said the best source for water was the Maumee River.”

The Maumee passes through Napoleon.

Currently, Napoleon draws water from the Maumee and sends it via underground pipeline to Wauseon, where it’s stored in above ground reservoirs.

Wauseon can draw water from the reservoirs for treatment, or Napoleon can reverse the flow of the pipeline if, for some reason, water cannot be drawn from the river.

Behm questioned shipping raw river water to Wauseon and/or Archbold to be treated, then having to have it shipped back to Napoleon in a separate, drinking-quality level pipeline.

Bisher said, “It didn’t make sense to push water to Archbold, then push it back. I just couldn’t get my arms around that one.”

Archbold has similar problems with TTHM, Behm said, which he said will only get worse as water travels through pipelines.

Archbold is planning to construct a separate treatment facility to reduce TTHM levels. The estimated cost is $2 million.

$18 million

Napoleon’s current water plant is 50 to 60 years old. Parts for much of the equipment are no longer available.

Behm said previously, if a new part for the plant was needed, it had to be machined from scratch.

The estimated cost to rebuild the plant is $13 million. But, during the rebuilding process, the plant must remain in operation, producing water. Workers would have to isolate sections of the plant to rebuild them.

A new plant would cost $18 million, but there are a couple of options to reduce the cost.

Bisher explained that currently, Napoleon supplies water to the Henry County village of Liberty Center. Napoleon also sells water to the Henry County Water District.

Napoleon, Henry County, and Liberty Center could join together and form a partnership, consortium, or “COG” (Council of Governments) to build the new plant.

“We haven’t worked out the details yet,” he said.

By creating a joint effort to build the new plant, Bisher explained Liberty Center and the water district become partners in the project, instead of customers.

Rather than being at the mercy of whatever water rates Napoleon sets, they can assume part of the risk of construction and operation, and set their own rates.

“It’s a self-determination issue,” Bisher explained.

Plus, Behm said, there is grant money available for a project like a water treatment plant.


As of last week, a proposed new water plant is only a staff recommendation.

It must go before Napoleon City Council for final approval.–David Pugh

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