Water treatment plant overdue for upgrades

Many areas of the 70-year-old Collins Park Water Treatment Facility is noticeably aged, and wearing the weight of time.

"There hasn't been major improvements to either of those plants since they were constructed," says plant administrator Andrew Mcclure, referring to the main complex, which was built in 1941, and the expansion facility, built in 1956.

Andrew showed me one water staging area that had to be covered with netting to prevent pieces of concrete from falling from the ceiling and into the water. The most recent upgrades, which are electric water circulation panels, are circa 1990.

"You can drive that old car for long enough, and maintain a little bit here, a little bit there. But eventually there comes a time when you have got to overhaul. And we're reaching that point," he says.

Now, with the city council's approval of more than $9 million towards repairs and upgrades, the facility will be brought up-to-date.

"It has electrical switch gear from 1941. The pumps have been maintained over the years on a regular basis, but they're original equipment," explains Mcclure.

You will, however, see a 9% increase in your water bill for the third year of a four year plan. The plan started in 2010, and expect to see another 9% hike in 2013.

"We haven't put money into the infrastructure. We have, right now, the 4th lowest water rates in the state, of all the communities. And there's a reason why we're there - cause we haven't put money toward capitol improvements," says David Welch, Director of Public Utilities for the City of Toledo.

And while it's always difficult to accept that more of your hard earned money will be coming out of your pocket, it's not difficult to turn your knob and have nice, clean water come out.

"If they turn that faucet and it doesn't come out, they'll really be screaming," says Welch, who doesn't mean this statement to be sarcastic, but is speaking to the generality that most of us take our ease of public water use for granted.

That luxury, and make no mistake that it is a luxury, requires diligent work by folks you will probably never meet, that you trust to deliver you clean water.