TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - With regard to drinking water, Toledo controlled the lake.
It drew the water, cleaned it up and piped it out then charged communities whatever the city wanted to use that resource.
Toledo mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz says, "Forty years ago, our suburban partners didn't have any other option and Toledo had a little bit of a monopoly. That's not the case anymore."
Now Detroit and Bowling Green and Oregon have water systems and towns like Sylvania and Maumee could tap in.
So with that threat, Toledo and 8-local communities hammered out a deal to create a Toledo Area Water Authority (TAWA).
Wednesday, those 9-communities celebrated this historic agreement.
Toledo, Sylvania, Lucas County, Perrysburg, Maumee, Whitehouse, Monroe County, Fulton County and the Northwestern Water and Sewer District each signed and promised customers safe, reliable water at predictable rates.
Lucas County commissioner Pete Gerken says, "They don't care who owns the water. Here's what they care: they turn on the faucet, you get good clean water, you pick up you're bill and you feel like you got a fair deal."
Tim Brown, president of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments says, "This is better for everyone across the board in leveling our costs long-term and putting our region on the map as a place to be."
Five Hundred thousand customers would get water from this new regional system and politics gets drained.
Mayor Richard Carr told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann, "Water should not be used as an economic development tool or a weapon for annexation or anything else."
And if algal blooms contaminate the water supply, this agreement could allow communities to hook up to Detroit or Bowling Green for back up service.
Sylvania mayor Craig Stough says, "We'd have multiple sources so that if one gets contaminated we close that one down temporarily and open up another one."
Wednesday's signing was ceremonial.
It is not legally binding.
There are big issues to resolve like how much it would cost the regional system to acquire the water treatment plant from Toledo and when that purchase would take place.
And then the councils and trustees of each community would have to approve.
The deadline is March 15.
And hours after Toledo signed the agreement, city council held its first hearing on the details concerning this regional water authority agreement.