Water crisis communication issues can be resolved, say leaders - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Water crisis communication issues can be resolved, say leaders

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The City of Toledo is still working to solve the city's water quality issues but it also wants to work on how it communicates with local customers.

Mayor D. Michael Collins (I) admits communication could have been better with local towns affected by this weekend's water crisis.

A couple problems that popped up could easily be resolved, say local leaders.

The weekend water crisis tested Toledo's emergency response and communication.  The response was swift, despite complicated logistics.  But communication, the mayor admitted yesterday, was insufficient.

Tuesday, Mayor Collins admitted, “No, we didn't call the mayors at 3 o'clock in the morning and tell them,” when asked if local leaders were told early on about the water alert.

Many local community leaders learned of the crisis through the Lucas County Alert system or even on television.

Official notification took sometimes  eight hours.

But Springfield Township believes calls should have been made when water tests started showing trouble.

Bob Bethel, a township trustee told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, “If there was information that was available on Friday afternoon, certainly we should have had a heads up well before 10 Saturday morning.”

That could have helped communities prepare their residents.

Sylvania cut-off water intake to protect its supply.

Next time, Sylvania wants Toledo to share water sample test results so it can judge when to refill its tanks.

And Perrysburg was reluctant to lift the water alert because it did not have access to the EPA test results for verification.

But the Village of Ottawa Hills, which does not have any water storage tanks like Sylvania and Perrysburg, didn't need those testing results.

The Village would have preferred the 3 AM call.

Marc Thompson, the village administrator said, “Certainly, mayors need their sleep like anyone else but there's a reason we have people here 24-hours a day.”

Every community agreed this was an unusual incident but Toledo's mayor admits communication has to improve.

Collins said, Tuesday, “That's one thing we learned: we should have had better communications and we're going to fix it but we never could have fixed it if we didn't know the problem existed.”

It might be a good idea to hold a summit of Lucas County communities to discuss the communication issues.

No summit is planned, but the communities we talked to said a meeting could come up with some solid solutions.

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