Most people don’t think twice about turning on the tap, but without a central water supply system on the Peninsula, water can sometimes be in short supply.
The rocky terrain means wells are shallow or non-existent and many households and businesses rely on tanker supplies.
When someone stole one of the two trucks that supply the village earlier this month, it only took about a day before residents started running dry, said Todd Alexander, owner of Alexander Water Co. His company makes daily deliveries to supply around 130 customers. During the night, one truck was stolen, his other truck was in the repair shop.
“We have regular supplies and then people always call because they’ve run out of water or they haven’t looked and it’s running low,” he said. Most of them just call us when they need water.
Village and county officials are looking for short-term and long-term solutions to keep water running in the small town known as the gateway to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Multi-million dollar water and sewer systems are planned
The village is under an EPA order to do something about its septic systems, which have been found to be releasing E. coli into stormwater drains and catch basins and thus into the Cuyahoga River.
Akron and Summit County are developing a plan for a peninsula wastewater treatment plant and central sewer to address aging septic systems.
At the same time, officials are working on a plan to extend the Hudson Township water system to the village, where 126 residential, 21 commercial and five institutional properties rely on both private wells and tankers.
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The cost of the sewer system is estimated to be between $5 million and $7 million, while the cost of the water system is estimated to be between $7 million and $9 million, according to Michael Viney, director of sanitary sewer services for Summit County.
Viney said the county and Hudson are currently negotiating an agreement for the water project.
“Summit County will build the water distribution infrastructure and then when it’s completed, it will be turned over to the city of Hudson for ownership, operation and maintenance,” he said. “We hope to have discussions in the next few weeks. We’ve had discussions, but we’re currently finalizing an agreement.”
County Executive Ilene Shapiro has set aside $7.5 million in the federal America’s Rescue Plan Act for the sewer project. It remains to be seen if the water extension can be covered by the same source to avoid property assessments where the cost of the work is paid by the property owner.
“We’re trying to avoid that by using ARPA funds and grants,” Vinay explained.
“We’ve already received a $500,000 grant from H2Ohio to design the water system, and we’ll be looking for those (ARPA) funds to build the system,” he said. H2Ohio is a state program that provides funding for programs that improve water quality.
Hudson Communications Manager Jody Roberts said no date has been set for the Hudson City Council’s review of the water main extension proposal.
In a previous discussion with the council, Hudson City Manager Thomas Sheridan said Hudson appears to have the capacity to serve both Peninsula and other upcoming planned expansions.
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When the water delivery truck was recently stolen, Village Councilman John Krusinski, the village council’s water and sanitation liaison, said no other local water source could be found.
The shortage came ahead of a busy weekend when thousands of visitors were expected to visit the small town known as the gateway to
“The winking lizard has its own truck, but it was also shot down,” Krusinski said.
The calls started coming in that Friday — the day after the truck was stolen, he said. There were concerns that events at businesses including restaurants and the Peninsula Foundation may have to be cancelled.
“On a very busy weekend in the village, we realized we couldn’t let this happen,” he said.
Fortunately, he said, the Summit County Executive’s office has been able to track down several companies that can send trucks to make deliveries: one from Louisville in Stark County and one from Wooster.
Alexander: I’m glad to be out of business
Whoever took Alexander’s water truck moved quickly, and the truck was almost found a few days later after it was seen parked in the North Canton area.
“We posted something on Facebook and it took a while, but someone noticed it and said it was sitting there,” Alexander said. “It was there all weekend but they didn’t see our post or respond to our post until Tuesday and the truck was gone Monday night. Someone had moved it.’
According to Akron Police, Alexander notified them that he received a report that a trespasser entered his property on Akron Peninsula Road at 10:50 pm on October 5th. When his security system showed the car was still on the property a few minutes later, Alexander left his Peninsula home to see what the intruder was up to.
He arrived at 11:05 p.m. to find the truck gone.
Complicating supplies this weekend, several water main breaks led to a boil advisory that included the Alexander Water Co. source. As the cisterns are vulnerable to contamination, the water could not be used and an alternative source had to be found.
Alexander, 64, said he took over the company from his father and would be happy to be put out of business with a new waterworks expansion.
“I’m doing this because the people on the peninsula need water,” he said. “Most of these people I went to school with. I grew up in this town. My dad used to do that when he retired, Chrysler and I have full-time jobs that aren’t water, but people need water, and so if you don’t do it, I don’t know who will.”
Eric Marotta can be reached at [email protected].