DUNKIRK - When it comes to providing water to residents, area officials are looking to work together.
Mayors, town supervisors, department of public works and water department staff were in attendance recently to learn more information regarding a proposed regional water district. The meeting was held for the Chadwick Bay Regional Water Supply Program at the Clarion Hotel in Dunkirk.
The meeting was to provide funding opportunities as well as implementation plan development to local municipalities who would be affected by a regional water system. The meeting also served as an opportunity for officials to ask questions to be answered by members of the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation and County Executive Greg Edwards.
Chautuauqua County Executive Greg Edwards was among the officials at a meeting for the Chadwick Bay Regional Water Supply Program.
"We have a chance today to move forward," Edwards said.
'DANGER' IN WATER
In 2010, a study was done in the county to assess the capacity, storage capabilities of municipalities' water and if their source was at risk. The report noted if any of the factors was in need of attention.
"Every municipality in northern Chautauqua County had at least one imminent danger," Edwards said.
The cost to fix those problems was estimated at between $50 to $70 million. With the implementation of a regional water district, the costs could be considerably less.
For the regional water system, the county as well as the Chadwick Regional Development Corporation has put money into the project. A topic of discussion during the meeting was funding opportunities for the project. Patrick Brennan, from Brennan and Associates addressed the issue about funding.
"It's a financing strategy to lessen financial burden on taxpayers," he said.
Funding may come from USDA Rural Development and from the state Office of Community Renewal. Jim Walfrand from USDA Rural Development said, "anything you can think of, they can finance," speaking of the organization. He commended the Chadwick Bay Regional Corporation for already starting the process of paperwork.
"Chadwick Bay has started the (process) that we look for," he said. "The goals you've established already and the baseline is something (USDA) would like to get involved in."
Rob Brooks of the New York State Office of Community Renewal said that even if that office does not give funding, they are constantly in connection with other state agencies and sharing information.
Also presented at the informational meeting were success stories of other counties that have implemented regional water systems. Examples of Livingston, Niagara and Genesee counties were all given.
Herb Downs from Niagara County explained how the county water authority is governed by 12 town supervisors. The county uses the west branch of the Niagara River for its intake source. Jim Vincent from Genesee County talked about how the county seat, Batavia, is similar to Dunkirk and Fredonia. Batavia is surrounded by smaller towns. More shopping centers and other services was located in Batavia that many smaller towns did not have, similar to the Dunkirk-Fredonia area.
"It the economy was going to grow, we needed water to spur economic growth," Vincent said.
Genesee County partnered with Monroe County and Erie County to get water throughout the county. County Superintendent Tim Hens gave optimism about the project saying that while it is a lengthy process, it will be worth it. He also gave examples of residents in Le Roy who had water problems prior to the project, but those problems disappeared after the county water system was.
The regional water district would interconnect municipalities in northern Chautauqua County through pipes laid down connecting the town of Hanover to the west to the town of Ripley. Edwards announced that the amount of pipe needed to connect water supplies have decreased in the past. Many municipalities have completed work within their own water systems helping out with the project. The project will not eliminate existing water sources, just connect them.
The Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation will now approach individual municipalities for their input on the project. For more information, visit chadwickbayrdc.com.