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ERIE COUNTY, OH – Water Usage Fact Sheet Excludes Tourism

June 21, 2010

The Great Wolf Lodge: one of five waterparks to open after the figures released in the OSU Extension Fact Sheet. photo: Jenna Martin

When you’re searching for data on water usage in Erie County, OH, whether it’s across the internet or on foot the OSU Extension Fact Sheet released in the 90’s is all that anyone’s likely to find. The fact sheet goes on to explain the following: two thirds of Erie County’s population of over 70,000 is urban, while the remaining one third is rural; eighty-six percent of Erie County’s population uses surface water primarily.

According to a thirty year study, the area receives an average of 2.8 inches of rain a month, with February generally seeing the least precipitation at 1.6 inches and June seeing the most at 3.9 inches, leading to a total of about 34.1 inches annually.  Fifty-nine percent of Erie County is farmland, and 304 linear miles of streams and rivers wind within the county according to the same source.

Groundwater is present; however, the primary source is unusable for the public as it has been contaminated by underground storm water waste disposal from Bellevue, and other non-point source contributors.

A Heidelberg University study in 1984 tested 223 wells in Erie County for nitrate-nitrogen content, finding that 17 percent had elevated levels attributed to human influence, and an additional 7 percent with levels too high for human consumption.  Only five (5) percent of the population of Erie County acquires their water through wells.  (The Erie County Health Department does provide testing services to ensure the safety of private water.)

In 1996, Sandusky ‘s population of 29,900 used over 9.9 million gallons per day (GPD), Huron’s population of 7,123 used 1.5 million GPD, and Vermillion’s 11,000 used about 1.6 million GPD according to Ohio EPA estimates. While these numbers will change depending on the 2010 census,  Erie County clearly is using an extraordinary amount of more water per day as a result of this decades expansion in Water Parks: Kalahari Resort, Castaway Bay, Great Wolf, Rain and the future re-opening of Maui Sands.

According to the fact sheet the estimated 3.5 million Cedar Point visitors who depend on the County’s resources during their stay are not being accounted for. Is Tourism driving up the cost for county water?

The fact sheet delineates that all three of Erie County’s main drainage basins, Mills Creek and Pipe Creek area, Huron River Basin and the Vermillion River Basin, are significant in that they drain into Lake Erie: impacting not only Ohio; but also Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York and the Canadian Province of Ontario.

The Erie Wire is looking into why Erie County, OH, currently only offers an insignificant amount of data to determine an up-to-date usage of water from Lake Erie. Questions being considered are concerned about exploitation, water rates, availability and the safety of water used in the county. Check back soon for an update, and other water related issues.


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