Whitehouse Wins $1.8 Million For New Water Storage Facility

Whitehouse Public Works Director Steve Pilcher, chief operating officer Josh Hartbarger and administrator Jordan Daugherty stand on the piece of village-owned land where a new 500,000-gallon overhead water storage tank will be built on Industrial Drive. The village received a $1.8 million grant from the state to put toward the $2.2 million project. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Whitehouse is about to double its water storage capacity – at less than 20 percent of its anticipated cost.

Last week, Public Works Director Steve Pilcher learned that the village was awarded a $1,874,138 Water and Wastewater Infrastr-ucture Grant through the Ohio BUILDS program. The grant will cover over 80 percent of the estimated $2.2 million cost to construct a 500,000-gallon overhead water storage tank on village-owned land on Industrial Drive.

“It was a big surprise,” Pilcher said during the August 1 Whitehouse Village Council meeting.

Last year, Kleinfelder project manager Tom Borck presented a detailed study of the village’s water distribution system, which includes two 250,000-gallon water storage tanks – one in Whitehouse Park and another on Finzel Road. With a peak water usage day of 1 million gallons in 2019, Borck recommended in-creasing storage to meet the increasing daily needs of residential, industrial and school customers, as well as to prepare for large events such as a big fire or an algal bloom issue.

Whitehouse purchases its water from Toledo through a Lucas County contract. In 2014, a toxic algal bloom on Lake Erie shut down Toledo’s water supply and left residents without potable water for over two days. 

“We would recommend enough storage for a peak day. You don’t want to drain the existing tanks completely down,” Borck said last year. “We want to see you have enough storage that if something happened like in 2014, you could close the valves and operate off your own system for at least a day.”

Council agreed and put the cost for the project on a five-year budget – a move that signaled to those awarding the grants that council supports the project and is planning ahead, said administrator Jordan Daugherty.

“We’ve been needing this water tower for 20 years, but knew we couldn’t afford it,” Daugherty said. “This has been 20 years of Steve (Pilcher) pushing for this.”

While considering a location for the new elevated water tower, the study looked at three village-owned properties, including Industrial Drive, Finzel and S.R. 64, and Waterville Street near S.R. 295. Using computer models, the study showed that the location of the new tower doesn’t impact water pressure or fire flow response. Ultimately, the Industrial Drive site, between the G.L. Heller Company and BASF, was chosen.

“We will have a shovel in the ground yet this year,” said Mayor Don Atkinson.

The design will be similar to a new water storage facility in Perrysburg, with a concrete tower built first and a steel bowl raised and put into place, Pilcher said.

During the meeting, council also:

• Honored Beth Hite, a former village council member, gifted piano player, nurse, mother and wife, whose life was forever changed in 1995 when a drunk driver in a pickup truck ran over her Geo Prizm on Stitt Road. Beth, who was accompanied by her husband, Don, read the victim impact statement she’s shared over the years with those who have been arrested for impaired driving. Initially, she was told that she would never walk or play the piano again, but after 14 surgeries and a constant faith, she was able to survive and thrive. She warns those considering getting behind the wheel while impaired to think about the impact of their decisions. She also thanked the members of the Whitehouse Fire Department and Monclova Fire and Rescue who were there for her in the aftermath of the accident, calling them her “forever heroes.”

• Cautioned motorists to keep an eye out for cyclists during the Mad Anthony River Run on Saturday, August 12 beginning at 7:00 a.m. More than 300 cyclists are expected to participate.

• Learned that Matthew Wagner was hired as a new full-time police officer.

• Heard council member Steve Connelly apologize to the members of the Board of Zoning Appeals, noting that in the future he would listen to or attend the meetings rather than relying on just reading the minutes before making a statement about their decisions. Atkinson dittoed that sentiment.

• Learned that the Thursday, August 22 grand opening of DEWESoft USA’s expanded headquarters will bring in honored guests including the Slovenian ambassador to the United States.

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