WILMINGTON — The City of Wilmington’s dream 30 years in the making appears to becoming true.
In 1990, when the city signed a contact with the state making Caesar Creek Lake a water supply asset, the intention was to spur economic development in the region.
Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth announced Thursday that water from the facilities Wilmington built under the 1990 Caesar Creek Lake contract will be used to supply the Honda/LG Energy Solutions joint venture electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility along Interstate 71 near Jeffersonville in Fayette County, according to a news release from the city.
“Today, we owe Tom McMillan a large debt of gratitude,” Stanforth said of the former county commissioner, farmer and community promoter. “Tom was instrumental in bringing together the politicians, the state and federal agencies, and the funding to construct the facilities at Caesar Creek Lake. And now the entire region will benefit from his efforts.
Representatives of Fayette County and the Wilmington Water Department have been working together for months to facilitate this endeavor, the city stated.
“We are so pleased to partner with Fayette County on this project,” Stanforth added. “The Caesar Creek Lake contract had become a burden for the city because of our lack of partners. This development is a game-changer for our city. In addition to the economic growth for the entire region, being able to share costs with Fayette County will free-up resources to shore up our water infrastructure. This will also have a positive impact on water rates for Wilmington residents in the long run.”
Wilmington and Fayette County are expected to finalize a water supply contract very soon, Stanforth said. When the agreement is complete, it will require approval by Wilmington City Council and the Fayette County commissioners.
Wilmington’s contract with the state grants the city rights to seven million gallons of water from Caesar Creek Lake each day, explained city Public Works Director Rick Schaffer. On average, Wilmington uses around two million gallons daily.
Excess water will be available to Fayette County. Representatives of Fayette County and the Wilmington Water Department have been working together for months to facilitate this endeavor
“Fayette County Engineer Steve Luebbe and his team are great to work with,” said Wilmington Director of Public Service Brian Shidaker. “I expect this to be a long and successful partnership.”
Governor Mike DeWine told reporters this week that the water will be sent along Interstate 71 from Clinton County to the new facilities in Fayette County.
Luebbe told the (Washington Court House) Record-Herald a large amount of infrastructure will need to be built to facilitate the battery production facility.
“We have about $100 million worth of infrastructure improvements that need done. We have about $70 million on the water side, about $20 million on the sewer side and maybe another $10 million on the roadway infrastructure and utility lines,” Luebbe said.
“We’ve been working with the company in providing the services that they need. There’s a lot of infrastructure work that needs to be done in a short period of time. We’ve been working toward this for a long time and I don’t think we could get a better company than Honda to be part of our community. The way I see it is we’re going to be in a cocoon for these two years and at the end of 2024, we’re going to emerge as something else. And I think it will be for the better.”
Multiple media outlets reported Wednesday that the DeWine administration is working with the state legislature to provide funding for much of the infrastructure improvements.
“Former Mayor Nick Eveland, who was serving at the time of the Caesar Creek Lake water project, had the foresight to make the facilities there expandable,” Schaffer said. “That will make it much easier to provide water to Fayette County.”