By Tim Cox
The Ohio Department Of Natural Resources wants Celina to investigate whether groundwater in sufficient quantity and quality to meet the city's needs could be drawn from the Stoneco quarry between Celina and Coldwater .
Some city officials questioned the timing of the ODNR request because the city is beginning a long-term improvement of the city water treatment system.
City officials and ODNR are involved in negotiations on a new lease agreement to allow the city to continue drawing water from Grand Lake. State agencies, including ODNR and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), continue to heavily guide how city officials handle efforts to bring the city's drinking water into compliance with environmental standards.
The city is under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) findings and orders to bringing the city's water into compliance by November 2007. Specifically, the city must lower the levels of trihalomethanes (THM) in the water to acceptable levels. THMs are a byproduct of the city's chlorination process due to the high organic content of the treated lake water.
EPA officials have expressed no preference whether the city uses lake water or groundwater as long as the treated water meets state standards. The study of the rock fractures underneath the quarry was included as part of a resolution to have the city's water consultant, Metcalf & Eddy, compile a pilot study for a short-term fix of the city's water woes. City officials want to pilot test granulated activated carbon before implementing it to remove organics from the water and eliminate THMs.
The resolution would appropriate $90,000 from the water fund, with about $12,000 or so of that going toward the stone quarry study.
Some council members questioned ODNR's authority to force the city to study more groundwater options. Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel said the agency has the power -- if not the outright authority -- because of the lease situation. City officials want the amount of water they are allowed to draw from the lake increased from the current 1.5 million gallons daily. But ODNR officials have said they will not discuss an increase until the city has exhausted all options to find an alternative water source, Hazel said.
Councilman Rick Bachelor questioned the wisdom of searching for water under an active quarry. He also questioned whether ODNR's interference could knock the city off schedule to meet the EPA's November 2007 deadline to fix the city's water.
"Why do we have to go out and do this for them?" Bachelor said, dismissing the ODNR directive as a "crock of baloney."
Blasting of rock at the quarry could alter the underground fractures and change the availability of water, Bachelor said. Blasting also could damage well casings, he said.
Some city officials urged speedy passage of the resolution so the GAC pilot test can be started. Water Superintendent Mike Sudman has expressed interest in getting the study started soon while THMs are near their annual peak. By doing the test now, city officials will have a firmer grasp on how much carbon they will use to treat the city's water.
But Bachelor refused to pass the legislation as an emergency and with Councilman Denny Smith absent, the rest of council lacked the votes to approve the measure. Councilman Ed Jeffries also opposed the resolution.
Instead, council members passed first reading of the issue and passed it off to the utilities committee for further study.
There was a suggestion to remove the single line in the resolution that deals with the ODNR mandate, but others did not want to do that without input from experts such as Sudman and Kent Bryan, the city's community development consultant.