A Letter from Ed Kolodziej
President of Aqua Ohio
Dear Youngstown Water Department Customers:
Thank you for taking the time to visit our site and learn more about Aqua Ohio and our desire to provide quality water services to your community. We know your time is valuable and we’re glad you’re here.
Aqua Ohio recently submitted a proposal to the City of Youngstown, which formally expresses our interest in purchasing the city’s water distribution system, which serves customers within the city limits and several surrounding areas. We have watched the challenges being faced by the city, and the diligent efforts made by elected officials to address municipal priorities. We hope that this letter of interest will provide the city — both the current and the incoming administrations — an additional solution to consider in their efforts.
Water and wastewater infrastructure plays a vital role for our residents and our area businesses. Across Ohio, the Association of Civil Engineers estimates that over $12 billion will be needed to replace aging water infrastructure and over $14 billion for wastewater in the next 20 years. As one of the nation’s largest water and wastewater utilities with more than 130 years of industry and technical experience, we are poised to partner with the city to meet the community’s needs through significant infrastructure investment that will promote reliable service, drive economic development and ensure the highest level of water quality and customer service.
We hope that you and the leaders in your community will consider all of the benefits of our proposal, including:
- Strengthening Service and Reliability: We believe customers are generally satisfied with their current water service from the City of Youngstown. Aqua is confident that it can meet and exceed the current level of service provided by the city while making the necessary improvements to the water system. Additionally, an agreement with Aqua would provide the city with at least $50 million to help fund vital city priorities and avoid possible layoffs.
- Fiscal Strengthening: Proceeds netted to the city from the sale of the water system can relieve outstanding debt associated with the water utility assets, can help address annual deficits, and provide funds that can be deployed to address other city priorities, including economic development and ensuring that all critical programs and services are fully funded. Youngstown City School District and other publicly funded services will also directly benefit as the recipients of well over $1 million in tax revenue, every year.
- Flexibility for City Employees and Unions: Aqua understands that employees serve as the backbone of their organizations. As a result, the company collaborates with municipalities to ensure that water employees have options to either maintain their employment and benefits and any collective bargaining agreement, or transition to Aqua. With the concurrence of the city, Aqua is committed to offering employment to every Youngstown employee who works directly on the water utility assets, subject to the results of typical drug screening and background checks.
- Continuous Water Infrastructure Investment to Ensure Ongoing, Reliable Service: In order to ensure reliability of water service and fire protection, the level of infrastructure investment needed can become overwhelming for many communities. Aqua has the capital, expertise and economies of scale to make this happen. In the areas of the state where we provide water and wastewater services, Aqua Ohio is investing $30 to $40 million each year across Ohio and over $13 million right here in the Valley next year alone. We would commit to investing at least $5 to $7 million per year and even more if needed within the Youngstown water system to ensure that the city’s water system is providing the highest-quality services. It’s an important commitment — one that can become a key benefit for the city’s economic development efforts — and Aqua is up to the task.
- Environmental Compliance: Aqua Ohio respects the environment and its customers by proactively managing compliance with federal and state regulatory agencies, which can be technically demanding and financially significant to communities. Aqua has the strong technical proficiency and resources to address these dramatic challenges and would assume all responsibility and risk associated with regulatory compliance.
Aqua Ohio has been firmly committed to both the state of Ohio and the Mahoning Valley for more than 100 years, developing strong ties to communities as we work to address their local water and wastewater issues, whether related to finances to support infrastructure investments, environmental compliance or operating efficiencies. As one of the largest regulated water utilities in the state, we currently serve 50,000 residents within the Mahoning Valley, 500,000 residents throughout the state, and we employ over 50 people who live and work right here in our local community.
We genuinely feel that this is an exciting opportunity for the city to explore when considering how to continue to move Youngstown forward as a thriving, vibrant community. We look forward to our continued discussion with Youngstown officials and residents, and we welcome you to contact us at WaterForOhio@AquaAmerica.com if you have any questions or comments. We look forward to your support and look forward to serving your water needs in the future.
President, Aqua Ohio
See what community leaders are saying about Aqua Ohio.
“We truly value our partners like Aqua Ohio and appreciate the investments they have made throughout Ohio and especially those right here in the Mahoning Valley.”
– James Dignan, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber Chief Operating Officer