Monday, November 28th, 2011
By William Kincaid
Official: Use city's fee for lake
  CELINA - The money Celina pays the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to use Grand Lake as its drinking water source should help pay for improvements to the lake, one city official says.
Planning and community development director Kent Bryan recently told city council members he will not sign a 15-year agreement with the state unless language is added that indicates Celina's annual payment will directly benefit the quality of the lake water. Celina's payment now goes into a canal lands fund used to maintain canals, ODNR spokesperson Mike Hallfrisch said.
The city is charged $33,500 each year - to be paid semi-annually - to use state water for its drinking water. The contract states the city is not to use more than 550 millions gallons of water each year unless written approval is sought from the state, ODNR spokeswoman Laura Jones said this morning.
Bryan said the 15-year contract was to be signed last year. The city paid its annual fee but did not sign the contract.
The city is working with ODNR officials to change the language and will continue making payments, Bryan said.
Hallfrisch, supervisor of ODNR's Water Withdrawal Facilities Registration Program, said Grand Lake is a canal lake and part of a canal system in Ohio. Entities that withdraw water from a canal system have to pay a water lease, he said.
ODNR began administering leases in the early 1990s, he said. Before that, another branch of state government was in charge of the leases.
Lenn Black, a water planning administrator at ODNR who said he is not that familiar with Celina's agreement, said the state has required leases from entities using water from canal lakes for a long time. He said it appears the state has had a series of contracts with Celina since at least 1974.
Hallfrisch could not answer whether Bryan's request to have the city's money go to lake improvements would be granted.
"That's an issue for the attorneys (who write the contract)," he said.
The city's drinking water continues to meet Ohio EPA standards, and the water treatment facility completed in 2008 is working as intended.
The city's 2010 annual drinking water report shows detected contaminants were well below maximum levels allowed. The U.S EPA regulates more than 80 contaminants in drinking water.
The trihalomethanes (THMs) level in the city's drinking water had been a problem for several years. In order to comply with EPA mandates, the city added a $6 million water treatment facility that adds granular activated carbon (GAC) filtration to the city's treatment process.
THM levels in 2010 ranged from 6.12 to 59.83 ppb, with an annual average of 43 parts per billion (ppb) - well below the maximum 80 ppb allowed by the EPA.
The drinking water also complied with EPA standards for chlorine, an additive used to control microbes; dichloromethane, discharged from pharmaceutical and chemical factories; nitrate, a runoff from fertilizer use; and haloacetic acids, a byproduct of drinking water disinfection.
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