Monday, June 3, 2013

City of Dayton Killing Jobs, Hurting Economic Development (Part 1)

By Steve Staub (President, Staub Manufacturing Solutions)

“City of Dayton recognized for killing jobs, not letting companies expand and making land worthless.” 

That should have been the title for the January 2013 edition of “Dayton Extra” an advertising publication put out by the City of Dayton. Instead the title was “Dayton has again been named a Groundwater Guardian Community by The Groundwater Foundation in recognition of the Source Water Protection Program (Well Field Protection Area)”. The Groundwater Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that anyone can join by contributing funds, so touting recognition as a milestone of accomplishment is somewhat disingenuous and self serving…but it is an award. Frankly my title is much more accurate than the one Dayton chose to run.

You might be thinking that I'm being a little harsh. Well, sometimes the truth hurts. While we do need to protect our city's water supply, we also need to use common sense and this is what seems to be lacking when it comes to Dayton’s oversight of the Well Field Protection Program. In this series of articles we will look at the history of this program, the current situation, show how other cities are working to change the situation and provide common sense solutions to this problem. In the end we will have a call to action for leaders of the City of Dayton. They created this monster and they have the ability to fix it.

At the time the ordinance was implemented there were approximately 160 million pounds of regulated items (aka “hazardous chemicals”) in this area. Today the number is in the high 140 million pound range. There have been 150-160 million pounds of chemicals in continuous use in the protected zone for over 25 years and the City is using the same well field. In all of this time the aquifer has not been harmed and, aside from the education that has occurred, the ordinance has done nothing to protect the aquifer. The fact is, this ordinance appears to be more about career development for a few individuals than it is about water protection.

History of the program: How we got here

In the early 1980’s the Dayton City Commission decided to allow construction of an industrial park to create jobs and provide tax revenue for the City. Normally this would be considered a positive event except, in this case, the industrial park was going to be built directly above an aquifer from where the city pumps a significant portion of its drinking water. It should be noted that the Commission approved this project at the objection of the Ohio EPA.

In 1987 there was a terrible fire at the Sherwin-Williams Paint Warehouse located in that industrial park. The warehouse contained over 1.5 million gallons of paints and other products and was directly located over the aquifer. Chemical run-off from fighting the fire could have potentially contaminated the water supply; therefore the decision was made not to apply water to the warehouse fire and to let the fire burn out on its own. As a result there was no contamination to the aquifer.

The fire was the beginning of the end for that industrial park and the birth of the Dayton Well Field Ordinance. The Ordinance started off as an effort to stop the development of the industrial park (which is now Kitty Hawk Golf Course) and to provide ministerial oversight and reporting. The ordinance sought to create an inventory of all the “Hazardous Chemicals” for the properties located within the area defined as the “Well Field Protection Area”. Unfortunately what was originally touted as a business-friendly program has evolved into a massive confiscation of private property rights without the City paying any compensation to property owners. It was not fair or equitable but they found a way to use the system to do it (we will discuss this in detail in future articles).

Each day this week we will cover a different portion of this fiasco and conclude on Friday with proposed solutions and a call to action. Tomorrow we will dive into the basic problems of this program.

Editors Note: MADEinDAYTONblog decided to run this series because of the negative impact this issue has on our region and the local manufacturing industry. It is our view that in order for problems to be worked on and fixed they must first be openly addressed. Opposing viewpoints, vigorous debate and proposed solutions are welcome. Feel free to sound off in the comments section.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


  1. Our Company was going to locate in Miamisburg in an empty building on the aquifer. We were told that although our chemical were miniscule compare to the wood shop that used tom occupy the building, they would pass a large exemption for just for us. Knowing how they can be from previous experience, we chose to "pass" and now we are on the Dayton Aquifer. My partner was having a little fun with their "expert" after getting a ridiculous response on a basic process we did on occasion....Ok then.."What would happen if I urinate outside?" Oh my, never do that either....not kidding.

  2. If you are going to write this, get your facts straight. Two of the Kittyhawk courses were opened in 1961 and one in 1965,long before the 1980s.

    1. Fact is some parts were developed before the fire and the rest of the property was to be an industrial park. After the fire everything changed.

  3. "In the end we will have a call to action for leaders of the City of Dayton."

    Just who would qualify as a "leader" for the City of Dayton? CityWide, Coalition, Mayor, City Council?

    Better to locate in a business friendly suburb, or Butler Couny - easier to get permits, less expensive and lower taxes, not to mention employee satisfaction.

    1. Ever compare the cost of real estate? Why build new when there are nice facilities sitting empty. When is it ever safe to spill hazardous chemicals anywhere? Should we all stop being hazardous or just add the cost of perfection to price us out of business?

  4. If you knew it was a protected site, why did you build your business, which uses "hazardous" chemicals, there? Sounds shortsighted to me.

    1. Good question.

      My Family had already owned the land for many years(long before there was a Well Field) so it was only natural that we locate on that land.

      When we built the building 16 years ago our crystal ball was not working very well and we could not see what our needs would be all these years in the future.

  5. I recall the inferno at the Dayton Sherwin Williams warehouse in 1987 and how they had to let the fire burn itself out. Lesson that should have been learned – make people realize the absolute importance of protecting Dayton’s well fields. All it would take is a small spill to create another nightmare – the next one might not work out so well. Dayton’s well field protection practices lead the nation in keeping drinking water safe. The lessons of the past need to be seared into our minds.

    1. Yes, we do need to keep our drinking water safe, I agree 100%.
      However there are many simple solutions to make this a win/win for everyone.

      Friday we will offer some of these solutions and recommendations for moving forward so that our water is safe and our community can grow.

    2. The above comment from Anonymous is just fear mongering, no common sense or facts. Powell Road, Valleycrest, both superfund sites are in or adjacent to the 1 year time of travel line. Both present for many decades and over 42,000 barrels were removed from Valleycrest. Ash dump at north incinerator, which is unlined, is adjacent to North Well Field. And the pumping continues. If this was a risk we should all be green by now.
      And lets not forget that over 80% of the recharge comes from the river.
      Lets deal with facts and science not fear mongering which is how we got to the place we are.

    3. None of this is fear-mongering. It's not as if we only have a one-off situation - that would be different. But, as you mentioned, over the decades there have been Powell Road, Valleycrest, Behr, and others (that might not rank as Superfund, but still are issues). Here in Beavercreek (where I live) we have Lammers Barrel, Nu-Glo, Elano, and more. From the Base, there's the capped mound (that was best not to even mess with) in the housing area between Zink & National Rds, the VOC strippers needed near Huffman Dam, and so many other plumes coming from the Base that they're too numerous to mention. Again, that's not fear-mongering about a single event. (As for possibilities vs probabilities -- who can forecast a Sherwin-Williams type fire occuring again?) We need not wait until we have a problem that we aren't able to recover from before we finally decide not to repeat. Dayton should identify businesses for that area that are more in line with their wellfield protection plan.

    4. Interesting point that you make:
      “Dayton should identify businesses for that area that are more in line with their wellfield protection plan.”
      So what about all the businesses that are not in line with the wellfield protection plan?

      In reading today’s article the water department could move all of these companies out of this area and make them whole.
      Not a bad idea, however not very practical.
      In reading your comments Mr. Anonymous you must work for the City of Dayton?

      I left a comment earlier today on article 3 today and said the following:
      This is a great series of articles. I had heard of the wellfield but did not know as to what extent the city of Dayton was corrupt in maintaining the lies. This is just one more reason why we should get rid of the city of Dayton government and have one county / regional government. I am looking forward to Friday to see how we fix this problem.

  6. One of the main problems with an situation involving risk is the confusion between possibilities and probabilities. The reactionary response to any risk is to shoot for 0% tolerance and not have to do any real evaluation and thought...Setting reasonable standard needs to consider probability. A hazardous meteor could hit Dayton, but what is the probability? Should we build a shield for that? the levees brought the probability of a devastating 1913 type flood way down...but it's not Zero.

  7. Love the Dayton Killing Jobs series.
    It is very unfortunate that our city leaders are too short cited to do anything that would help the business community and stop the huge exit from Dayton!
    Our company LEFT Dayton because of the well-field regulation and I know of others that did the same.

  8. As the west/southwest regions of the U.S., China, India and Africa face major water shortages, the Dayton Development Coalition is marketing Dayton's outstanding clean water supply as a positive asset to attract businesses to the region. We should do all we can to protect this important asset not only for our own personal health, but the economic competitiveness of our region. Business will always say environmental protections are too stringent and then walk away from the toxic pollution they have left for taxpayers to clean-up. And what seems like a "small" or insignificant use of "minor" chemicals from a large number of small businesses can lead to significant pollution. There are too many businesses who unfortunately don't exercise "common sense".

    Here are just two of the major sources of toxic pollution encroaching our our aquifer:

    PDF]West Troy Contaminated Aquifer - Agency for Toxic Substances and‎CachedOCTOBER 23, 2013. Prepared under a ..... Introduction. The West Troy Contaminated Aquifer is a plume of chlorinated solvents in groundwater that has migrated .... Troy is located in Miami County, Ohio, about 20 miles north of Dayton , Ohio.[PDF]Behr Dayton Thermal Systems Voc Plume - Agency for Toxic‎CachedNov 6, 2013 - COMMENT PERIOD ENDS: DECEMBER 20, 2013. Prepared ..... Chrysler Air Temp) facility in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio. Volatile ... groundwater plume under the neighborhood and the source of contamination at.