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Great Lakes Article:

County, townships discuss water
By Jack Buehrer
The Ohio News-Messenger

The Sandusky County commissioners' plan to run municipal water to outlying areas in the county was met with skepticism Thursday during a meeting of the county's Township Trustees Association.

The commissioners have said that they are opposed to the townships having their water supplied by outside entities that could potentially thwart future development. Norwalk-based Ohio Rural Water has expressed interest recently in running a line from Lake Erie to a water treatment plant they would build on Ohio 53 near the turnpike. Doing so would allow them to supply parts of Rice, Sandusky and Ballville townships.

Rural Water already serves portions of Town-send, York and Green Creek townships.

"My biggest fear is that going with Rural Water will lock certain areas in and prevent future expansions," said Commissioner Terry Thatcher. "This isn't a battle against Rural Water directly, but we can't have a water company come in here and affect our future like that."

Thatcher and Commissioner Dan Liskai said if the county, municipalities and townships can work together in providing water throughout the county, working with an outside company wouldn't be necessary.

"Why go through something like this when we have water available here?" Liskai asked the 30-plus trustees from each of the county's 12 townships. "With a little cooperation here in our own county, we could make sure that everyone is served. Why would we want to bring it in from the outside?"

The prevailing concern among the trustees was that receiving their water from a nearby city or village would result in a potential loss of land through annexation, something Thatcher said could likely be avoided.

"If a city runs water to an area, as a rule, there's usually some sort of annexation covenant," he said. "I think they're afraid (the municipalities) are going to eat up their whole township. We think that can be negotiated and solved. We would need to negotiate an agreement that says, 'we'll run water out here without an annexation covenant.' And we think that could be done."

Some trustees said they could foresee problems for townships no matter who brings water to their areas.

"I'm not saying I don't know what (the commissioners) are saying is true," said Mike Hetrick, a trustee in Sandusky Township. "But I can envision that if this thing is broken up into different municipalities running water that those entities would have control over the area they serve, too. You could set up some kind of a water district, but that would be creating another beaucracy."

The commissioners said they would continue to meet with the townships and the municipalities in hopes of getting the water issue solved as soon as possible.

"This is on a fast track," Liskai said.

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