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 Water Department - Welcome 
By: Tyler Converse
Posted: 3-29-16

The winter of 2014-2015 was another harsh one, which means more water-line breaks than normal, and a temporary increase in the percentage of "unaccounted for" water. As the ground thawed in the spring, most of the hidden water main breaks surfaced and were quickly repaired. We still have much work to do, however, as vast numbers of Canton's pipes are aged beyond their useful life and are in need of replacement. The location of water-line breaks are being plotted on a map, and the areas of highest concentration are being scheduled to be replaced as quickly as resources allow. Even so, I estimate it will take another 7-10 years to replace the most break-prone sections of the system.

The spring and early summer seasons were wet, hindering water sales, but a late summer dry spell helped the bottom line. Water revenue finished up 2.3% over 2014, but it was not enough to account for additional spending on infrastructure, which was anticipated. Our inside-the-city industrial accounts, which have really carried us over the last several years, slipped as the rapid decline in gas and oil drilling negatively impacted the local steel industry. The CWD finished the year short $933,661 as we carefully draw down the level of cash reserves. Our intention is to maintain an amount equal to 7 months of operational expenses. Prior to this year, we've carried approximately 10 months of expenses in cash reserves.

Certainly one of the highlights of 2015 was the completion of the Water Meter and MTU Replacement Program. In summary, the initial cost of this project was estimated at $13-$15M. The project was advertised and the winning bids came in at $10.5M, which was obviously much lower than expected. Better yet, the final project expenses totaled $9.4M, nearly $1.1M under budget! The project also finished several months ahead of schedule and obtained a replacement success rate of nearly 100%. I couldn't be more proud of the design and execution of this project by all involved, especially the CWD staff who really went the extra mile during this difficult project.

The CWD spent considerable resources as part of the 12th St., Street-Scaping project. From Monument Rd. on the west to Harmont Rd. on the east, 12th St. is undergoing widening, paving, lighting, and even decorative street-scaping at major intersections. There was some debate with City Council about whether or not to replace the water line along the entire length of this roadway in conjunction with the street-scaping project. The cost was estimated to be in the $5M-$7M range. Much of the water line along this corridor is 20 inch cast iron pipe that was manufactured in 1889. Although old, it is very well made and our records show it to be quite stable. CWD has so many acute water-line replacement needs in other areas of the system that our decision was to leave this stable main in place, and use the resources to replace the failing main first. As a precautionary measure, however, CWD replaced the old 20 inch main and valves under the major intersections such as Market and 12th St. NW., and Cleveland Ave. and 12th St. NW, to avoid potentially damaging the expensive street-scaping at these locations.

CWD is entering the 4th year of the Valve Maintenance Program, which began in 2013. This year 1,948 valves were assessed. Of those, 986 valves sized 4-inch and larger were exercised and 86 valves, or approximately 9%, were found to need some level of remedial work after operation. The remaining smaller valves were exposed and G.P.S. located. There are 5,000+ valves remaining in the distribution system that need to be located and exercised in the coming two years.

As anticipated, the valve program has generated hundreds of work orders, primarily to repair valves found to be not functional or leaking. In an effort to keep up with this additional work and the backlog of water main replacement work, CWD took steps to add a 5th Distribution System Maintenance crew. Fielding a crew is very expensive, but necessary to complete the tremendous amount of work that needs to be done in the coming decade.

My primary overreaching goal as Superintendent is to position CWD for long-term viability and success. I strongly believe that this department is presently "on task" and heading in the correct direction. With regards to staffing and succession planning, I can say with confidence that we currently have some of the finest, most experienced, and dedicated employees at every level in this department. But I know that many of this department's leaders, including myself, are approaching retirement age. As the pending "silver tsunami" approaches, it's absolutely imperative that this department's salary and benefit package be on par with the market rate, as we certainly compete in the open market for new talent. Over the last two decades, the wages and benefits packages of the non-union managerial and technical staff have fallen behind both those of the AFSCME unions that represent this department's workforce, and the wages and benefits packages of the public utility sector as a whole. I have been "beating this drum" for several years now, but with limited success. I want to be on record as advising that if the City fails to make the appropriate adjustments that allow CWD to retain its current top employees and to compete for new talent, it is going to negatively affect the future of this department, a most prized and valuable asset of the City.

The Canton Water Department would like to thank the Mayor, the Director of Public Service, the Director of Public Safety, the Law Director, the Auditor, the Treasurer and members of City Council for their valuable support throughout the year. I would also like to thank the outstanding employees of the Canton Water Department for their dedicated service to this department and the community in which we live.

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Water Department News

Hydrant Permit Fees Change 05/01/2016
Posted: Mar 29, 2016

**Effective 05/01/2016, the minimum hydrant permit fees will increase to $74.49 for hydrants located inside the City of Canton and $103.87 for hydrants located outside the City of Canton.

Read More »

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the source of our drinking water?

The Canton Water Department obtains 100% of its water from underground wells. Our wells extend hundreds of feet deep into sand and gravel aquifers that were created long ago by glacial activity. These natural aquifers provide Canton with an average of 24 million gallons of water per day. We have three separate well fields that supply water to our three water treatment plants.

Backup measures

Should the need ever arise, we have several protective backup systems built into our utility that enable us to ensure a dependable flow of drinking water to our consumers. As previously mentioned, Canton has three separate water treatment plants and well fields. If one plant is taken off-line, the other two plants can make up the difference in water production.

The City also has 27 million gallons of drinking water stored in enclosed reservoirs. This quantity represents about one day's supply of water and is kept in reserve as a precautionary measure. Another backup system is the new 2100 horsepower Caterpillar Diesel generator. This powerful generator can provide enough electrical power to operate our Sugarcreek Plant in the event of a widespread power outage.

We also have two interconnections with the North Canton Water System which are normally kept in a closed position. In an emergency, however, these valves could be opened and potable water supplied to our system or vice versa depending on the need. All of the redundant and overlapping "backup" systems described above ensure that the Canton Water Department can provide a dependable supply of drinking water to all of our consumers.

What are sources of contamination to drinking water?

Contaminants that may be present in source water include:

(A) Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations and wildlife;

(B) Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals, which can be naturally-occurring or result from urban storm water runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming;

(C) Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban storm water runoff, and residential uses;

(D) Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are by-products of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban storm water runoff, and septic systems;

(E) Radioactive contaminants, which can be naturally-occurring or be the result of oil and gas production and mining activities.

Who needs to take special precautions?

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly persons, and infants can be particularly at risk from infection. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791).

Water quality monitoring

The EPA requires regular sampling of the City's water supply to ensure drinking water safety. Each year the Water Department conducts over 20,000 tests for more than 100 different substances. The good news is none of the contaminants that we detected exceed EPA established Maximum Contaminant Levels or resulted in a violation of drinking water standards.

Only a very small percentage of the contaminants tested for exist in our water at detectable levels. The following tables identify the contaminants that were detected. Note: The Ohio EPA requires us to monitor for some contaminants less than once per year because the concentrations of these contaminants do not change frequently. Some of the data, though accurate, are more than one year old.