DPW director: Waterline saved in efficient time

The waterline issue that occurred last month in the city of Dunkirk that led to a boil water advisory lasted only 52 hours, thanks to a diver who was able to patch the pipe at 1 a.m., according to DPW Director Randy Woodbury.

At the Department of Public Works Committee meeting on Wednesday, Woodbury said the contractors admitted it was their fault when the late-night waterline was damaged in the city. There is still work to be done, but he recollected the day of the incident and the speedy response the contractors and team had to fix it.

“We all know we had a catastrophic accident,” he said. “Everybody worked together to keep that plant alive. It was like having an artery severed. (What) severed the artery is still in there and a diver went into the hole and patched that, so we can continue to make water. As soon as it broke, we shut off the pipe.”

He boasted that the team prevented any dirty water from entering the city pipes, but due to the testing system, a boil water advisory had to be applied. The city needed to pass two consecutive tests, and both had to be 24 hours apart, thus a 48-hour minimum from the incident occurring to the end of the advisory.

Woodbury stated that some departments may have a week to fix such problems; Dunkirk took only 52 hours — four hours longer than the minimum allotted time.

The DPW director added that it would be impossible to have the tests fail as the chlorine levels were high enough to nullify all issues. The department is creating a plan with the contractors to fix the issue as there is still problems to address.

“It was a tragic thing that happened,” Woodbury said. “We minimized the tragedy as we could and we have a plan to put that tragedy behind us.”

Woodbury was appreciative for Chief Operator of the water treatment plan Robert Lawrie and Kyle Schuster, lab director at the plant, for their efforts in efficiently saving the city from a larger problem.

“Without their expertise and all the people that work for them, we wouldn’t have gotten through that tragedy the way we did,” Woodbury concluded.

Also, during the DPW committee meeting, Woodbury stated that the waterline for the North Chautauqua County Water District has begun work to connect the line from Brigham Road down to the Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Brocton.

Along with the beginning of that is the additional funding from CHIPS to help repair roads. Woodbury was proud to announce that the city will be compensated for the wintry conditions as the area has suffered from it.

“We are going to get an extra boost of CHIPS funding this year,” Woodbury reported. “They call it a Harsh Winter Recovery. We are going to be able to do some crack fixing, which is highly needed. The state was scheduled to not refund Pave New York, which was a $70,000 addition to CHIPS.

“That was renewed, so we are going to get that. And the Emergency Winter Recover, we got the last couple years of $50,000, we are getting that.”

Woodbury asked the councilmen to report roads that were in need of work as the spring season is soon to be fully underway.

As for road construction, the DPW director added that the city has benefitted from “chip sealing.”

“What the county calls flushing, what I call chip sealing, we are getting a lot of bang for our buck,” Woodbury said. “For that process, we did Fifth Street in the second ward a couple years ago and it’s still looking good. We did the boulevard and we did Third Street three years ago and that’s looking good.

“Just for example, Third Street would have been $600,000 to mill and fill; we did a chip sealing for probably $15,000. That’s just materials because the shared services with the county and surrounding communities to help us do that.”

The city is also fixing West Howard Road. Woodbury stated the department saved the city $22,000 for doing in-house work on the bridge that is being removed and has a waterline in it. The city succeeded in getting a project to have the line fixed, add six valves and deconstruct a bridge built in 1910 without losing water to the 14 households.