As to the announcement by the Putnam County Commissioners that they now, again, want out of the sewer and water business, I have some comments, as we have heard this before.

Between 2012 and 2016, the then commissioners put forth a joint effort — I say joint, as it took more than one commissioner — to form a 6119 sewer and water district. They applied for two grants at that time: one to study the possibility of the need for a 6119 in the county, and one for the possible formation of said 6119. After accepting these grant monies, Bowling Green State University did the study and recommended that a 6119 be formed. An attorney was contracted through the county, using the second grant, to help form the 6119. After all of this, one would think the then commissioners were committed to this effort. One of the then commissioners then came out and said he was never in favor of the 6119, and even wrote a letter to the editor against it. One other now sitting commissioner, after all the organizational and public meetings, decided to change his mind about the 6119. This made it 2 to 1 against, and the then commissioners dropped out of the 6119. With the entity of the County Board of Commissioners withdrawing from the 6119, the effort to form a 6119 fell apart. In the end, it wound up being a total waste of $200,000 of the tax-payers money.

The now sitting commissioner once came up to me and one other board member at one of the first organizational meetings and said the 6119 was a great idea, and the county really needed this. He then got himself on the organizational board and the committee to write the by-laws. At the time he decided to run for commissioner, he resigned from the board and turned against the 6119, working hard to bring the effort down. At one of the last meetings — in a roomful of people — he stated the county already had a 6117, and didn’t need a 6119.

What it comes down to is that these two now sitting commissioners made a conscious decision to opt out of the 6119 and retain the 6117. This puts the commissioners in the water and sewer business, like it or not.

It’s what they wanted. It’s what they got.

Now, with them wanting out of the sewer and water business, does this mean the county will no longer have a sewer and water authority? Is it not the job of the county commissioners to promote economic development in the county, and isn’t the availability of water and sewer a part of that? If you think the availability of water and sewer has no impact on economic development, just look at the towns and villages in this county that have these services and compare them to those that don’t.

With Toledo passing the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s requirement of reductions of nitrides and phosphates going into Lake Erie, ever more stringent new regulations are almost certainly coming. These new regulations will call for reductions of run off and what can be discharged into streams and river. With the requirement of a 40% reduction set by the EPA of nitrides and phosphates going into Lake Erie by 2025, I feel this is not the time for our county to get out of the sewer and water business. We need a local authority that is more than willing to work for the residents of this county.

I say ‘more than willing’ as this has not been the case in the past. In early 2018, a group of my neighbors, myself included, decided there was enough interest in the neighborhood to look into a sewer line out of Ottawa up State Route 15 and parts of I-9. We contacted an engineering firm to get a rough draft of the project, along with a rough estimate of the cost of such a project. After several meetings with Ottawa officials, they agreed to go along with the project. Because we planned to do this under a 6112 private line, it was required to go through the County Board of Commissioners. The first of two meetings did not go too well, so a second meeting was set; this time with a representative from the engineering firm, and two officials from Ottawa. Details of the project were presented to the commissioners. Only one of the commissioners, who is no longer in office, was willing to work with us. The other two wanted nothing to do with the project, and we received no cooperation from them. They said they were not in favor of any new sewer lines in the county, and that they wanted out of the water and sewer business. After this meeting, the commissioners’ office contacted one of the people at this second meeting requesting the names and addresses of the stakeholders for this project. They were informed we would give them this information with the stakeholders ourselves to present the project to them. Before we could hold this meeting, a biased, poison-pen letter was sent out of the commissioners’ office, along with their own survey. How much this letter influenced everyone is hard to tell, but when people showed up for our meeting, it seemed like a lot of them had their minds made up, and the project fell apart.

I fell these two commissioners are not serving the residents of this county with this attitude. If they truly want out of the sewer and water business, then my advice to them is either renew the effort form a 6119, or join the Northwest District out of Bowling Green. The towns, villages, and rural residents of this county deserve better.