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.