VOICES: Congressman Turner’s water committee seeks independent viewpoints

In Dayton we are blessed with an abundant water supply because our region is situated over more than 1.5 trillion gallons of water known as the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer. We are fortunate to have this resource and it is one we must work together to protect.

In the summer of 2019, Congressman Mike Turner created the Dayton Water User Committee and charged the panel with developing an impartial and holistic view of our water quality and system infrastructure. The formation of the committee followed local concerns and national conversations about water quality, aging infrastructure and groundwater contaminants such as PFAS — or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — a group of contaminants that are known to cause cancer, birth defects and other health issues.

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To succeed, we knew that we needed the active participation of leaders from public, business and community organizations. Everyone stepped forward, including the city of Dayton, Montgomery County, and business and community leaders from AES Ohio, CareSource, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, Dayton Development Coalition, Kettering Health Network, Miller Valentine, Sinclair Community College, Premier Health, city of Trotwood and the University of Dayton.

The committee agreed on desired outcomes and quickly determined that conducting an independent study would provide the most expertise and meaningful community feedback. During the development of a request for proposals, the Miami Conservancy District lent its skills to the study as project manager. Unfortunately, as the study was about to begin, the world-wide COVID pandemic struck, eliminating travel and the face-to-face meetings that would be necessary to complete the study. Much like other business and personal plans, the Dayton Water User Committee was forced to put its study on hold.

The committee was finally able to reconvene (virtually), in January of this year, and we formally began the study. The consultant, LimnoTech, outlined a comprehensive plan to review Dayton’s water quality and infrastructure.

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In addition to performing a review of the region’s water systems, the study will address the committee’s key question of whether the region’s water systems are reliable, resilient and sufficient to meet the area’s needs today and 50 years into the future.

The final study report that is expected to be complete in late September. The study is unfolding in a series of steps, including data compilation and synthesis, site visits, gap analysis and a review of best practices. Ultimately, the members of the Water User Committee believe the final report will bolster confidence for residents and businesses that rely on the water. In addition, the report will serve as a planning tool and partnership builder with state and federal government officials cooperating to improve our water utility. Our water resources are an economic development advantage for the Miami Valley and are critical for our health and quality of life. This independent and unbiased study will help chart our community’s water infrastructure development for years to come.

Tom Raga is vice president of AES Ohio and the chairman of the Dayton Water User Committee

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