Let's get it done this time!
Watching fire department tankers from as far away as Granville shuttling water from Hebron's water plant to a barn fire in Buckeye Lake last week was sobering. It visibly demonstrated the consequences of the village's continued failure, now spanning nearly two decades, to provide public water to its residents and visitors.
Thankfully, major structural fires are infrequent. But the effects of this failure of leadership are felt daily. Some residents are drinking contaminated water. Most are spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, to treat their own well water. Everyone is paying more for fireinsurance.
We were encouraged earlier this year when Buckeye Lake, Hebron and county officials got together to discuss the possibilities of purchasing water from Hebron. A recent specific proposal from Millersport increased our hopes. Of course, there are details to be worked out like the length of the contract, price escalation and volumes. But the critical foundation is there for a win:win agreement for both communities. Millersport, with a new treatment plant coming on line next month, needs more customers to hold down costs for its current customers. Buckeye Lake needs a good price for bulk water so it can provide affordable public water to residents. Providing public water at $50+ per month isn't the answer. Many residents can't afford to pay that much.
Our optimism is tempered by Buckeye Lake officials' continued dalliance with building their own complete system. This ongoing fantasy is responsible for last week's parade of fire tankers from Hebron to Buckeye Lake.
Last week's council meeting increased our fears that Buckeye Lake officialsstill aren't ready to work in good faith with Millersport or Hebron to come up with a bulk water supply deal. Mayor Frank Foster told council members Sept. 10 that the village's engineering consultant is seeking estimates on the costs to redevelop the village's wellfield. A report from the consultant on the status of public water in Buckeye Lake is also forthcoming.
We can write that report for free and in four words - "We don't have any." More studies or reports, racking up more engineering costs, aren't needed. It's time, once and for all, to drop the fantasy that we can afford our own treatment plant. We can't and nobody is going to give us one. If we continue to pursue the fairy tale of total control, we'll either end up with a bankrupt water system that every property owner will have to bail out or we will be treated again and again to last week's parade of fire tankers hauling water from Hebron.
It's time for our council members, the ones 'with very good credentials and college degrees,' to finally face economic reality and focus exclusively on working out a water supply contract with Hebron or Millersport. We're very lucky to have two reliable suppliers with excess capacity so close by. Let's not blow it this time.