About 20 people spoke out at a public meeting Monday on Dayton’s proposal to revise its drinking water protections. Almost all the speakers opposed the plan, which would reduce the most stringently protected area by 40 percent.
Currently, companies can’t bring new hazardous chemicals into the area on and around the city’s wellfields, and Dayton runs a buy-down program to help companies get rid of older chemicals. Businesses are subject to different limits depending on the number of pounds of potentially harmful chemicals that were present on a given site when the zoning regulations were first passed in 1988.
“The City of Dayton water department is here to protect that commodity for us,” said McPherson Town resident Laurie Trick, who is also a member of the volunteer Environmental Advisory Board that supports the City Commission. While Trick says she thinks Dayton is doing a good job protecting its water resources, she has concerns about removing protections from a stretch around Needmore and Wagoner Ford roads between two wellfield sites. “That scares me.”
Dayton’s water system supplies 400,000 people in Montgomery and parts of Greene County, and other regional water systems also depend on the shallow underground aquifer, which can be easily contaminated by surface spills. The city says it’s trying to align its policy with the latest studies of water demand and movement in and around the wellfields, as well as allow more flexibility for businesses to grow within the area. Opponents of the changes have pointed to the city’s own records showing a 90 percent occupancy rate for buildings within the protection zone.
Another public hearing for water customers will take place Monday, July 21 from 6-8pm at the City Commission Chambers, 101 W. Third St, 2nd Floor.
WYSO will be providing ongoing coverage of the drinking water debate—stay tuned Monday mornings for our series on water this month. Lewis Wallace is WYSO's economics reporter and substitute morning host. Follow him @lewispants.