Put-in-Bay Water Meeting

On Thursday, September 5th, there was an open meeting with Amy Klei, head of the Ohio EPA’s drinking and groundwaters department, Chief, Division of Drinking and Ground Waters – OEPA, and other representatives from the Ohio EPA and Village Council to discuss options for providing Put-in-Bay water in the coming years. The representatives were there to provide information about EPA policies and regulations in the coming years, provide information about possible funding options and discuss engineering concerns about maintaining a water plant on the island or building an underwater line and connecting to the regional water system on the mainland.

The EPA officials began with praising the current status of the Village’s water plant and said that the water being produced there is some of the best in the state. They said the agency’s relationship with Jaime Hernandez, the plant’s operator, is very good. However, when it came to the future of the plant, Klei could not tell those gathered what to expect when it comes to future mandates for treatment, operations, operator certification, and on-site supervision, all of which add to the
cost of producing water just like the expensive ozone treatment system that was recently required to be installed at Put-in-Bay’s plant.

When it came to financing options in the future, there was no definite information about what grants and funding opportunities might be available, but the money man on Klei’s team OEPA Water Meeting did explain how current funding works in relation to what the agency looks for when assessing new projects. When it came right down to deciding on whether or not an on island system or a water line to the mainland was the best, the engineers from the OEPA and Ottawa County had concerns about providing Put-in-Bay water from the mainland but did not rule it out. The EPA promotes connecting to regional water systems but does not decide which option is best for a community.

Up to The Village Council To Determine What Will Happen With Put-in-Bay Water

It is basically up to the Village of Put-in-Bay Ohio to decide which option it wants to pursue and submit a proposal to the OEPA. The OEPA would then have to approve any proposal. Needless to say, there are pros and cons for running an island water plant or installing a line to the mainland. An aging water plant makes it important that officials at least look at both options, especially when it comes to operating a small plant with many of the same fixed costs and regulatory obligations that a large plant incurs. Further adding to the strain on the plant are large events such as the Bash On The Bay 2020. Proponents of installing a Put-in-Bay water line to the mainland show initial, cost-saving projections in the tens millions of dollars over the life of a line. It was suggested that an outline of the issues, requirements, and questions be put together for both options so that Village officials could review everything that would be involved in making their choice.

When the meeting was over, everyone was certainly more informed about the issues from an OEPA standpoint, but there was no clear decision on which option
would be best for the island. Klei indicated the agency would be interested in any new studies or other case studies that are relevant for the future of providing water for the island. If you were in the audience and a proponent of one option or the other, you probably walked away with your position unchanged, Hopefully, all parties
walked out with open minds about conducting further study of the issue.