Suburbs meet with Toledo but continue process toward water independence

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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - We may be months away from Toledo voters deciding whether to be part of a regional water system but the suburbs say they cannot wait.

Tuesday, they met to discuss creating their own water system, an action they would rather not take.

Although it would be cheaper for suburban communities to use another water source or create their own they want to work with Toledo.

But while they are giving the city time to figure this out, the suburbs are also preparing for a water system that does not include Toledo.

The suburbs want a water system that's fair to all. They are frustrated Toledo dictates rates.

For instance, Maumee pays $20.64 a month for water. Sylvania pays $43.63 per month.

Six weeks ago, Toledo and eight other communities inked a deal creating a water authority that would equalize rates across the board and give the suburbs a voice in operating the system.

It was a deal negotiated over two years with the Hicks-Hudson administration with a representative of city council attending the meetings. But when the plan was revealed, council did not know the details. Now, the city is having second thoughts.

Sylvania mayor Craig Stough says the deal was negotiated in good faith. He says of the city to want to "renegotiate, that's not a very popular statement to make at the moment. But we'll listen, we still want to find the right outcome."

Mayor Stough says the right outcome is creating a water authority *with Toledo*.

During a closed doors meeting at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce this morning, Toledo met with its suburban partners and learned the suburbs are prepared to create their own water authority.

They have created a working document prepared in case Toledo does not join with them.

Councilman Nick Komives says, "Everybody is seeking options."

He does not believe the suburbs are bluffing about going into a separate water system from Toledo.

Komives says, "Some of them are finding better deals elsewhere and so I'm concerned we're going to lose people in this deal."

But Tuesday, no signatures on this new, Toledo-excluded document.

All sides prefer working together, believing the alternative would be a disaster.

Lucas County commissioner Pete Gerken says, "If this thing splits up into 3 or 4 water systems, it's failure on everybody's part."

And the region literally cannot afford to let that happen.

But the suburbs have to be prepared.

If council turns down this deal, or Toledo city voters reject it, the suburbs will need a back up plan.

All nine partners will meet again in a month but plans to strike out on their own are still moving forward.

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