HUBER HEIGHTS — An intense debate is brewing in Huber Heights over water concerns.
At issue is a pair of proposals that were tabled at last Monday’s City Council meeting. The first an ordinance that would have placed the installation of three water pressure booster stations for areas of the city north of I-70 before voters in November.
A study by the Cincinnati firm Burgess & Niple in March found that the booster stations would cost around $2.2 million.
The second proposal that would have been put before voters is city-wide water softening. While a more recent study is expected to be received soon, a study done in 2010 found that the city’s water is considered “very hard” at approximate hardness of 348 mg/l where anything over 250 mg/l is considered “very hard.”
The cost of membrane softening, the only type recommended for the water plant on Rip Rap Road, was estimated at $8.24 million in 2010. The legislation tabled would have authorized spending up to $13 million.
Council Member Janell Smith, who voted to table both measures, drew a distinction between the two projects.
“Water pressure should not be on the ballot,” she said. “It is an infrastructure deficiency that should be addressed by the city. As elected officials, that’s what our job is, to fix the infrastructure.”
She called water softening an “enhancement” and a “luxury” and said voters should get to vote on it because “it will likely raise their water rates, it needs to be voted on by the people.”
Member Glenn Otto split his vote – voting against tabling the water pressure ordinance while voting to table the water softening one – but said he supported both projects.
“I think both of these projects should go forward because they would greatly benefit our residents and businesses,” he said. “This is an area where we lag behind other communities.”
Member Tyler Starline voted to table both issues and said they should be brought before council for a vote. He cited a previous survey that showed “people overwhelmingly want soft water.”
“Council should take the initiative and not have to put it on the ballot,” said Starline. “This one is powerful enough, important enough, and direct enough in terms of the service being provided that we should do directly rather than put it on the ballot.”
Both issues are expected to be discussed at the next council work session on Tuesday, June 7 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 6131 Taylorsville Road. The meeting is open to the public.
Water pressure booster stations
Voting to table: Smith, Starline, Blankenship, Byrge, Lyons
Voting against tabling: Otto, Shaw Campbell
Water softening proposal
Voting to table: Shaw, Smith, Starline, Otto, Lyons
Voting against tabling: Campbell, Blankenship, Byrge
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.