Rootstown must meet water contract

By Mike Sever Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The water company and Ravenna city this week signed a five-year contract for the city to supply at least 100,000 gallons per day of potable water to the township.

But the township already has a contract with the county for a minimum 400,000 gallons per day, and has been using an average of 470,000 gallons a day, said Harold Huff, director of the county Water Resources Department. The city's new contract is for five years, beginning Sept. 2, 1997 to Sept. 1, 2002, with an annual rate review after the first three years. Most of the water will go to the Delphi-Packard plant on S.R. 44 in northern Rootstown Township.

Commissioners' legal counsel, Assistant Prosecutor Denise Smith, said Rootstown Water Company is not in violation of the contract by signing with Ravenna. However, the contract does commit Rootstown Water to paying for 400,000 gallons a day whether it's used or not.

The county's contract dates to 1983 for 300,000 gallons per day. It was amended and increased in 1993 to 400,000 gallons per day. The contract is open-ended, Huff said. The 20-year debt service for the million-gallon Brimfield tower starts in 1998, so Rootstown Water would be committed for at least that long, Huff said.

"If they need an extra 100,000 gallons a day, in theory they are free to go wherever they want to buy it," Smith said. But if the water company uses less than the minimum, the company is still responsible for the payment, which includes about $50,000 per year for debt service, Huff said.

The county's agreement is tied to debt service for more than $1 million worth of water system improvements made to improve service to Rootstown, commissioners said.

Commissioners asked Smith to prepare a letter to the water company saying the county intends to have the water company live up to its contract obligations.

"They didn't have to put $1 million into a water tower _ we did. They didn't have to put out major trunk lines _ we did." Commissioner Chuck Keiper said.

Recently the county built a new water tower near the county's Brimfield well field, and ran a new trunk line along Edson-Meloy roads through the Sandy Lake area to service the northern half of Rootstown.

If Rootstown does cut back to the 400,000 gallon per day minimum, the county is looking at a loss of about $37,000 per year, Huff said.

Ravenna Mayor Paul Jones said the contract gives Rootstown Water Co. an

alternate source of water. "(The county) will continue to sell water to

them, but they needed an additional 100,000 gallons a day," Jones said.

"We're in the business to sell water, too. There's nothing personal

about this. We run our utility like a business. We're just giving them

another source, and a more reliable one, since it's surface

water."

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