Montgomery County wants Dayton to invest in generators to prevent future water outages

Montgomery County wants the city of Dayton to install generators to power its water system in case of another outage like the Memorial Day tornadoes, but city leaders say it’s unnecessary and would cost $45 million.

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The Memorial Day tornadoes wiped out power to both of Dayton’s water well fields, stopping service to thousands of people in the city and in the county, which buys water from Dayton. Another event earlier this year also impacted service to many in the region.

News Center 7's Mike Campbell spoke with customers who know much of the disagreement is over money, but said they just want a dependable water supply.

People expect the water to flow from a drinking fountain in a county or city building. And, on a hot day, people expect water from the spray fountains at RiverScape MetroPark, too. But everyone agrees residential service is the most important.

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“At the end of the day, people need their water to be able to bathe and cook. It’s necessary,” said Briana Greenwood of Dayton.

Greenwood said she lost power for four days after the tornado, which did not surprise her. But she also was without water for four days, which did surprise her.

“Really frustrating because we had to go out and utilize resources to go get water and weren’t in our home for four days. We had to go to my mom’s,” she said.

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City officials said they have two gigantic water well fields and each one can provide enough water for the city and county customers if one goes down.

Both well fields have a separate and independent power supply from Dayton Power & Light Co, but the tornadoes knocked out power to both of them in May.

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County officials said the city should have more redundancy. They urged the city to create generator backups to make sure water continues to flow.

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“I think it’s a good idea,” Christine Doerner of New Lebanon said. “I know that it takes time to get the money for that and not everyone agrees, but I think it’s a good idea.”

Dayton officials said they believe they have the necessary safeguards in place and only a rare storm created the recent problem.

For even more in-depth information about this important issue for our community, check out this Sunday’s Dayton Daily News article as part of The Path Forward series.