Ottawa County Overview
Ottawa County has a permanent population of just over 40,000 residents living in an area of approximately 585 square miles (255 Land and 330 Water). The county has 26+ miles of shoreline along the Western Basin of Lake Erie and Sandusky Bay attracting as many as 250,000 people to the area on a daily basis throughout the spring, summer and fall months. Visitors return to the area often throughout the year to boat, fish and enjoy the many water related recreational activities that the County has to offer. In addition, many visit local historical landmarks, frequent casual dining facilities, and enjoy the various lodging and camping opportunities that exist. The influx of both the seasonal and transient community varies tremendously throughout the year and is typically very weather dependent.
Providing a safe drinking water supply and sanitary sewer service to the eastern 1/3 of Ottawa County (which experiences the largest influx of seasonal and transient visitors) requires that local infrastructure be sized to serve peak activity periods during peak visitation days. This typically includes holiday weekends and any extended favorable weather forecast period throughout the summer months. Peak visitation activity throughout the area requires a significant investment in the amount of reserve capacity built into the water and wastewater treatment plants as well as the distribution and collection systems. The local infrastructure is all sized, at a considerable expense, to serve the peak 20-year design flow day (which occurs on a very seldom basis). The Ohio EPA mandates the sizing requirements of the facilities and the County is obligated to operate, maintain and administer the facilities each day throughout the year.
Ottawa County Regional Water System
The original 6-Million Gallon per Day (MGD) Ottawa County Regional Water System was placed into operation in May 1999. The system was required by Ohio EPA to be expanded in 2002 when on one hot summer day, the 6-MGD facility exceeded its peak design flow. As a result, Ottawa County was required to install a 3-MGD treatment expansion to the facility at a cost of $3.7 million dollars. This expansion was prompted primarily due to the influx of seasonal and transient visitors on that one peak day in 2002. Since then, the facility has only exceeded 6-MGD one other time. The expense associated with the required expansion is being paid by both the permanent and seasonal community, even though the majority of the demand placed upon the system causing it to exceed the original 6-MGD threshold on that one day was seasonal in nature.
Sanitary Sewer Billing
Sanitary sewer billing is based, in principal, upon EPA's suggested flow guide that utilizes standardized equivalency factors to calculate the benefit of providing sanitary sewer service to the various classifications of users. Each equivalency factor is computed on the basis of the probable demand that transient and seasonal users place on a sanitary sewer system when being used. Even though the demand that a seasonal or transient visitor varies tremendously throughout the year, the county must have available and maintain that additional reserve capacity for their use throughout the entire year. As a result, the concept of the Equivalent Dwelling Unit billing system is used based upon the availability of the infrastructure throughout the entire year.