Ohio needs $12 billion to fix its aging water system

NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – The city of Niles spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing bad spots all across its water system, but it’s just a drop in the bucket.

Service Director Edward Stredney said he is sick of waiting until sinkholes open up to show where problems are.

“We will be presenting a plan to council to aggressively attack this and be proactive instead of reactive,” Stredney said.

Stredney wants to take a survey of the entire city utility system and start replacing all of it, little by little. That copies an approach already being used by Aqua Ohio.

“We work at replacing what we have to replace, but we do it actually many times more, the rate is much faster than most municipalities,” said Ed Kolodziej, president of Aqua Ohio.

The water company is on pace to replace its entire system once every century or so. Kolodziej says the need to replace failing water lines is reaching a crisis level statewide.

“They are estimating here in Ohio alone we will need about 12 plus billion dollars in the next 20 years to replace water infrastructure,” Kolodziej said.

To help out, State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-33rd District, is proposing a state bond issue. It would hand out seed money for clean water projects.

“We are in deep trouble, but you don’t see this stuff unless you get a break. You don’t see this stuff until someone gets lead in their water because they are sitting on 100-year-old pipes,” Schiavoni said.

That issue would only bring in about $1 billion, which is far short of what experts say is desperately needed.