could get access to Lake Erie water supply
By Al Lawrence
News Journal of Central Ohio
ASHLAND -- An 8-year-old moratorium on new connections to
Rural Lorain County Water Authority lines running through
Ashland County could be lifted in late 2004.
Any future expansion of water service in northern townships
likely depends on formation of a county water authority.
County commissioners learned of new developments during
a meeting Thursday with authority general manager Tim
Mahoney and director of development Becky Haines.
Mahoney told commissioners the moratorium will end if
the Great Lakes Council of Governors approves an annex
to the Great Lakes Charter that gives the council authority,
under the federal Water Resource Development Act of 1986,
to control the amount of water exported from the Great
Mahoney said a preliminary proposal would allow states
to regulate requests to take up to 3 million gallons of
water per day out of the watershed, with larger amounts
considered by the council.
"They want to be careful that the Great Lakes don't
end up in Las Vegas, or Phoenix, or L.A., or Saudi Arabia,
for that matter," Mahoney said.
"But we have to be able to come to an equitable
solution so that the water can be used in the area adjacent
to the Great Lakes, like northern Ashland County."
In exchange, he said the states and provinces would be
required to do projects to improve the quality of the
water flowing back into the lakes. Projects could include
the purchase of land along streams to create zones to
prevent harmful runoff.
Mahoney said Rural Lorain is working with a Chicago consultant
that received a $125,000 Great Lakes Protection Fund grant
to study how to form the improvement programs. He said
the authority was chosen, along with a large water authority
serving suburban Milwaukee, because it has been aggressive
about the issue.
"You folks in Ashland County are known all over
the Great Lakes because of this study that was done,"
Mahoney said. "A lot of these instances in Orange
and Jackson Townships and the Village of Polk are mentioned
in this study, which has been reviewed by all of the Great
Lakes governors and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec."
If the changes are approved, Mahoney said Rural Lorain
has asked to divert from Lake Erie an additional 500,000
gallons of water per day.
Mahoney also cautioned that, although the authority board
anticipates the amount of newly-diverted water would meet
its needs for the next 20 to 30 years, it would prefer
further expansion of service in Ashland County by selling
water to a new public or private water district, rather
than extending its own system.
Commissioner Marilyn Byers was pleased with Mahoney's
"You, today, are giving us the best hope we have
seen yet," she said. "The best thing for us
to do is get started with a water district and then, if
we have a district in place and have to ditch this (diversion)
and go with a reservoir we still have the district."
In other business, Solid Waste District coordinator Dan
Scott told commissioners he has developed new rules and
a schedule of new charges for the district's annual household
hazardous waste, tire and electronics collection day July
12 at the Ashland County Fairgrounds.