The past and present of providing good water at a good price to Avon Lake.
When the Village of Avon Lake decided in the 1920’s to construct a water filtration plant and water distribution system, it was required by Ohio law to establish a board of trustees of public affairs. The water plant became operational in 1926 and soon began providing water to the residents of Avon Lake. The three-member board of trustees of public affairs first met in 1929 to oversee the operation of the system.
The citizens of Avon Lake liked having a separately elected board to oversee utilities and included it in the 1951 Charter, where a five-member board was empowered with all administrative and limited legislative authority over public utilities within Avon Lake.
Within two years (1953) after the establishment of the Board of Municipal Utilities, the Board was approached by the City of Avon and entered into its first contract to provide water outside of City limits. This benefitted Avon Lake customers by increasing revenue using existing capacity. Similarly, the Board entered into a contract with Sheffield Lake six years later (1959) to provide water. In 1975, 1982, 1993, and 1999, the Board entered into contracts with the Rural Lorain County Water Authority (RLCWA), Sheffield Village, and consortia for the Eastern Transmission Lines (ETL1 & ETL2) to provide water to additional areas outside of Avon Lake. Similarly, the Board entered into agreements with Avon (1993) and the Rural Lorain County Sewer District (LORCO, 2000) to provide wastewater treatment services for areas outside of the City.
Through these bulk contracts, 85% of the water ALMU withdraws from Lake Erie and treats is now sent outside of City limits, and 15% of the wastewater treated originates outside of Avon Lake. These bulk contracts and ALMU’s business philosophy–“Make all decisions to best balance quality, quantity, cost, and service”–helps keep annual water and wastewater bills among the lowest in the state. In fact, the average Avon Lake customer pays less than half what other water and wastewater customers pay in similarly sized cities in Ohio.
Today, Avon Lake Municipal Utilities employs less than 40 staff members to operate and maintain a 40 million gallon per day (mgd) water filtration facility (currently being expanded to 50 mgd), a 6.5 mgd water pollution control center, and more than 250 miles of water and sanitary/combined sewer lines within Avon Lake. Additionally, ALMU maintains more than 40 miles of water lines and 50 miles of sanitary sewer lines outside the City. Water produced at the filtration plant is used by over 200,000 people in a 680 square mile area covering parts of seven counties (Lorain, Medina, Cuyahoga, Wayne, Ashland, Huron, and Erie). Annual revenues are approaching $14 million, and the 10-year capital improvement plan is approximately $85 million.
ALMU and its Board look at the future with optimism. Other jurisdictions continue to approach ALMU regarding potential provision of water services, and ALMU’s existing wastewater contracts with Avon and LORCO allow for significant growth during the short- and long-term. Between these potential agreements with other jurisdictions and contracts with private companies for savings on energy, raw materials, and services, ALMU anticipates keeping Avon Lake customers’ rates among the lowest in the state.
In a 2012 survey of its customers, 90% to 95% rated ALMU’s water quality, customer service and billing services as “good” or “excellent”. ALMU’s mission is to protect public health and the environment. As our customers have recently been seeing, we have expanded that role from simply our providing high quality drinking water and wastewater treatment services to also providing information to and working with the community to help them also better protect public health and the environment, including regular, voluntary E. coli testing at area beaches. We look forward to a long-time partnership with the residents of Avon Lake and all our ratepayers as we all work to keep Lake Erie clean.