water

Gardner talks funding, water, guns and abortion at town hall

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Since the lame duck session of state government usually brings some hasty legislative decisions, State Senator Randy Gardner spent Saturday morning conferring with his constituents. Always a history teacher at heart, Gardner tried to put the present in perspective by explaining past decisions. For two hours, he answered questions at his town hall meeting, then spent another hour talking with citizens individually. Though they didn’t always like his answers, the citizens at Saturday’s town hall meeting appreciated the willingness of the senator to hold a public gathering. “The next three weeks will be a really challenging time with big decisions,” said Gardner, a Republican from Bowling Green who has rotated between the state representative and senate seats since 1984. Adding to the unpredictability of the lame duck session will be the number of amendments tacked onto bills at the last moment. “Amendments will change the outcome of bills,” Gardner said. And it’s not unusual for amendments to present competing interests in the same bill, he added. Gardner has two of his own issues pending in the lame duck session. The Sierah Joughin bill creates a statewide database for law enforcement listing convicted violent offenders living in their jurisdictions. The bill is in response to the death of a 20-year-old woman from Fulton County, who was killed by a convicted violent felon. “I’m pretty optimistic,” this will pass, Gardner said. This bill has its critics, he said. Some feel the database could impede the rehabilitation of convicts. To better understand that criticism, Gardner said he met with Eddie Slade, who spent 31 years in prison for murder and burglary. “I have extra respect now for people who struggle to turn the lives around,” he said. But Sierah’s Law is in the best interest of communities, he said. Gardner’s other pending bill would “finally” see movement to get funding for the preservation of a healthy Lake Erie and help the agricultural community at the same time. Following are some of the other topics Gardner was asked about during the town hall. Hot button issues – guns, abortion and petitioning Marilyn Bowlus, of Pemberville, asked Gardner about pending house bills on “Stand Your Ground” gun laws and abortion rights. “It seems like Ohio is going backward,” Bowlus said. States that make it easier for people to justify…

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BG water rates staggered to make easier to swallow

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green’s water rates are not bringing in enough to keep the water expenses afloat. A rate study by Courtney & Associates has found that revenues need to be hiked by 32 percent by 2022. If approved, those rate increases will be spread out over five years, with a 6 percent bump each year. While the 32 percent hike may sound big, even with the proposed rate increases, Bowling Green’s water rates will be much lower than those in some other communities in the region. The average homeowner currently pays a monthly water bill of $11.46. With the five-year increase, that bill will be $16 a month. That compares to monthly bills more than $50 in Perrysburg, Napoleon and Fremont. Though the total water revenue will need to be boosted by 32 percent over five years, the levels will be different for each category. Residential will be increased 44 percent over that period; commercial and industrial will go up 29 percent; wholesale will increase 28 percent; and hydrant costs will go up 143 percent. John Courtney, who presented the water rate study, said Bowling Green has been able to keep its water rates low because city officials decided years ago to use money from income tax revenues to help fund the city water system. “Your rates are still the lowest on the list,” Courtney told the Board of Public Utilities last week. “That’s awesome,” replied Mike Frost, president of the Board of Public Utilities. But the income tax fund made up 40 percent of the water rate expenses 10 years ago. That shrunk to 33 percent five years ago, and is now about 23 percent. “Your costs are going up,” Courtney said. The city has seen some growth in wholesale water sales to communities outside Bowling Green, but very little growth in water demands in the city. “Your sales have been fairly stable over the last several years,” Courtney said. The city has not increased its water rates since 2016. Meanwhile operating expenses continue to increase. At current rates, the different categories of water customers generate the following annual revenues: Residential, $1,025,800 Commercial/industrial, $2,307,100 Wholesale, $2,178,900 Hydrant, $35,900 The proposed rate changes called for: Phase-in increases over the next five years. Increase rates to result in an increase in revenue of approximately 6 percent each year. Increase the residential customer charge to…


Protecting Great Lakes focus of Lamb Peace Lecture

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Earth Week 2018 at Bowling Green State University kicks off April 16 with the annual Lamb Peace Lecture at 7:30 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater. The free lecture is titled “Policy, Politics and Pollution in the Great Lakes Basin: If Protections Are Good, Why Are Regulations Bad?” with Lana Pollack, chair of the U.S. section, International Joint Commission (IJC). The IJC was established by the U.S. and Canada to address issues related to boundary waters including the Great Lakes. Pollack was appointed chair by President Barack Obama in June 2010. She has had a diverse career in public office, education and the public interest sector. From 1996-2008, she was president of the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of 70 environmental organizations working to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan’s environment. She was elected three times to the Michigan legislature, serving as a state senator from 1983-94. During her tenure, she was a leading advocate for women, children and the environment and earned praise as the architect of Michigan’s landmark 1990 polluter pay statute. Pollack was a Fellow at the institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, taught at the University of Michigan and was an elected trustee of the Ann Arbor Board of Education. She served on a number of educational, nonprofit and corporate boards, including the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board, which annually directed $35 million to $50 million in discretionary public funds to protect, purchase and enhance parkland and open space for preservation and recreation. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. BGSU’s Edward Lamb Peace Lecture annually brings internationally recognized experts to campus to address major environmental issues and how they affect world security. The lecture series began in 1986 in honor of the late Edward Lamb, a prominent Toledo lawyer committed to social justice, civil rights and world peace. It is underwritten by the Lamb Foundation of Toledo.


BGSU faculty work was key to impaired designation for Lake Erie

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency and Gov. John Kasich have designated the western basin of Lake Erie – from Toledo to Marblehead – as an impaired waterway due to toxic algae. This designation comes after consultation with experts from Bowling Green State University, among other organizations. “This is a great first step, a recognition of the fact that these blooms are impairing Lake Erie,” said Dr. Timothy Davis, BGSU associate professor of biological sciences. “This is clearly the right decision.” Davis and Drs. George Bullerjahn, Professor of Research Excellence, and Michael McKay, Ryan Endowed Professor, all in the Department of Biological Sciences were part of the team that developed the criteria used to declare the open waters of the western basin of Lake Erie impaired. This included determining what metrics should be used and how they should be used. “We’ve known for a while that these blooms have been a major issue to the region, and this is really a formal acknowledgement of that issue,” Davis said. “It gives us a benchmark to work toward to delist it.” “It’s going to take significant nutrient reduction from the watershed to remove the impairment designation,” Davis said. “In conjunction with Annex 4, which recommends a 40 percent phosphorus reduction, we will now have great targets to aim for to reduce the impact harmful algal blooms are having in the western basin of Lake Erie.” The team advising the Ohio EPA also included scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Ohio State University’s Sea Grant College Program, the University of Toledo and the U.S. EPA in making this determination. Lake Erie — its water, inhabitants and surrounding habitat — has long been the topic of research by BGSU biology faculty. Bullerjahn, Davis and McKay all have a deep history of expertise in and support of Lake Erie water quality research and support. Davis has worked with the EPA previously; he was appointed to the agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), a federal advisory committee that provides advice, information and recommendations to the EPA’s Office of Research and Development on its research programs. As part of this three-year term, Davis serves as a member of the BOSC Safe and Sustainable Water Resources (SSWR) subcommittee. He has spent the last 11 years studying the ecology of harmful algal blooms (HABs). During the course of his research, Davis looked at…


Science teachers enrich lesson plans with activities about Lake Erie algae blooms

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Area science teachers visited the Bowling Green State University campus early this month to learn how to integrate lessons ripped from the headlines into their lesson plans. The professional development sessions brought about a  dozen teachers to learn ways to teach intermediate and middle school students about issues surrounding algae blooms in Lake Erie. Doug Reynolds, who teaches fifth grade at Holland Elementary, said he was excited about having the professional development on “real world problems.” Like several other teachers in the class this was a return to his alma mater. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BGSU in 1997 and 2000 respectively. Karen Krontz has yet to earn her BGSU degree. She’s student teaching at Dorr Elementary in Springfield. “It’s so relatable to everyday life,” she said of the issue. During lessons students share stories about how they use water, and they’re aware of the consequences when something goes wrong. In 2014, toxic blooms made the water in Toledo and much of the surrounding area undrinkable. “They know about algae blooms. Some were affected a few years ago, so they’re very interested.” The workshop was taught by BGSU professor George Bullerjahn, one of the leading experts on algae blooms, with Mark Seals, director of the School of Teaching and Learning, and STEM educator and researcher Ken Newbury. The sessions, funded by a $60,000 Ohio Math Science Partnership grant awarded to BGSU, demonstrated simple hands-on activities that showed the dynamics of how algae blooms form and how they can be mitigated. That meant the teachers getting their hands dirty as they put dirt into trays on top of wire screening. The lesson is intended to show how buffer zones around fields can help keep the runoff rich with nutrients applied as fertilizer from flowing into the lake. Those nutrients nourish the plant life in the lake, just as they nourish plants on land. Conor Whelan teaches science to fifth and sixth graders at a school for the gifted in Sandusky. Surrounded by farm field, his students are well aware of the concerns. There are field all around, and run-off comes from those fields. Whelan quizzed Bullerjahn on what was more of a problem in Lake Erie, farms or municipal runoff. Bullerjahn said that overflows from sewage plants were the major problem years ago, but as plants have improved. Also more efforts…


NW district weighs water options from Toledo, BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Concerns about water quality, quantity and costs have resulted in a possible regional water system with Toledo in the center. But if that Plan A falls apart, then the northern Wood County area is eyeing a possible Plan B involving Bowling Green water. The Northwestern Water and Sewer District held a public meeting in Perrysburg Thursday evening to talk about possible options for approximately 6,500 of its water customers in northern Wood County. To serve its northern customers, the district currently purchases water from Toledo, then distributes it to Rossford, Northwood, Walbridge, Perrysburg Township, Troy Township and Lake Township. The status quo has been disrupted in the past few years by several concerns about Toledo water quality and cost. Toledo has been ordered to make many water system improvements, with the costs being passed on to customers who already pay large surcharges. Complaints from communities served by the district have shown growing dissatisfaction over the rates and the water quality since the Toledo system went through the algal bloom crisis of 2014. The district’s contract with Toledo water expires in 2024 – which in water agreement years is not much time. Meanwhile, talks with Toledo are still not quite complete, and negotiations with Bowling Green haven’t even begun. Rex Huffman, attorney with the district, explained at Thursday’s meeting that several political entities served by Toledo water share the same concerns. So after months of negotiations, the Toledo Area Water Authority was created. Signing a memorandum of understanding for TAWA were officials from the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, Toledo, Lucas County, Maumee, Perrysburg, Sylvania, Whitehouse, Fulton County and Monroe County. “We have a chance to really look at regional water,” Huffman said. “We want to link arms, work together, solve these problems regionally,” he said. The TAWA agreement focuses on providing economical savings and environmentally safe water for all parties, according to Eric Rothstein, an attorney who is helping to form the water authority. “This is an approach to a regional water system that benefits all parties,” Rothstein said. The proposal calls for a redundant water supply source, so the 2014 water crisis is not repeated. And it calls for transparency in the pricing structure – which does not exist now with the Toledo charges, Rothstein said. “There’s a commitment to financial transparency,” he said. “Rates will be based on the cost…


Public meeting on Toledo Area Water Authority initiative set for Feb. 15

From NORTHWESTERN WATER & SEWER DISTRICT The Northwestern Water and Sewer District (The District) will host a Regional Water Informational Meeting on water supply options in Wood County Thursday, February 15, 6:30 p.m., Quality Inn, 10612 Fremont Pike, Perrysburg. As an established regional water authority, The District is exploring long-term water supply options for approximately 6,500 water customers in Northern Wood County, including the cities of Rossford and Northwood, The Village of Walbridge, as well as customers in Perrysburg Township, Troy Township, and Lake Township. The District is currently exploring options with the Toledo Regional Water Authority (TAWA) as well as other water sources in Wood County. The purpose of this meeting is to inform the public by presenting information regarding these options, prior to making the decision to sign an agreement with TAWA. Information on TAWA and most the recent Wood County Economic Development Study will be presented. Click for more information on TAWA. Click for information on the most recent Wood County Economic Development Study. https://www.facebook.com/events/1597726893 Directions: From I-75, take Exit 193 (US 20), head east on Fremont Pike (US20), right on Lakevue Drive, the Quality Inn will be on the right with parking and access to the conference room facing US 20. ACCOMIDATIONS/RESERVATIONS: The District’s public meetings and events are accessible to people with disabilities. If you need assistance in participating in a meeting or event due to a disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act, please contact The District at least three (3) business days prior to the scheduled meeting or event to request an accommodation. To reserve a seat, please call or email below. Phone: 419-354-9090 EX 193 Email: district@nwwsd.org