During a Friday meeting of members of the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation it was announced the the group's early commitment to a north county water system will continue to develop. Sheridan
Town Supervisor John Walker said the group has retained the services of Wendel Duchscherer for the first stage of a north county water system study.
"The County Executive's office has done a study on water needs throughout the county. It was initiated in the north end and then Chadwick Bay had met, talked over the need for doing a water district of sorts, and everyone agreed and put forward $5,000 for the cost of the engineering to do the study," Walker said, referring to the group's initial investment.
Each municipality involved including the town of Portland, village of Brocton, town of Pomfret, village of Fredonia, town of Dunkirk, city of Dunkirk and the town of Sheridan each budgeted $5,000 to put toward the $35,000 study to examine possibilities of a shared water distribution system for the communities involved.
"Having all of the municipalities invested is a great signal to the rest of the people involved in this because that's where the rubber meets the road," Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards said. "You can have a design, you can have an idea, but each municipality has to reach out to their community and say this is worthy of an investment. And I know, that $5,000 may not appear like a lot but it really is. Villages, towns and like the county are budgeting down to the dollar and to find a way to come up with $5,000 in the initial analysis is a real commitment and I think it really sends the message that everyone is in this together. Through this coordinated effort we'll find a solution that pays off."
The Chadwick Bay group has already met twice with members of the Niagara County Water System, a system they would like to emulate in a way.
"We looked at other water districts in the area but the Niagara County water district, who we invited to a Chadwick Bay dinner last year and who the county executive invited to a conference he held, and they explained how their system was developed as a water provider," Walker explained. "They produce it, store it, transmit it and it was then up to each municipality to provide their own infrastructure after that. It is spreading out a lot the high-end costs throughout the entire district."
Unfortunately for the group, time is of the essence to benefit from the recent chunks of funding that the state has received in federal stimulus dollars.
"At this point the more we can get ready the better. The college has become interested through the Center for Regional Governance and they have found at least one EPA funding source. There are some application deadlines for the middle of August," Fredonia Mayor Michael Sullivan explained. "I think we need to get whatever we can get done, the work being done by Jerry Summer from Wendel Duchscherer, and compile that with the 2001 report by O'Brien and Gere which outlined some sketching where tanks could be placed ... and relying on all of the conversations that have been going on in this area since 1965 about a regional water supply."
Even if funding timelines become a concern, Walker is confident that because the group acts for the towns, village's and city that funding sources that may not have been available to one or the other will all be made available to the corporation.
"The Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation brings somethings to the table that is rather unique throughout the state," he said. "Because access to United States Department of Agriculture and Rural Development funds we have access to through the towns; the villages don't due to their size, the city doesn't, but they have access to federal funds. So as a group we can access many different agencies and hopefully put together a system that is going to keep our jobs here, our business here. Each one of our communities depend on water."
Several municipalities including the village's of Fredonia and Brocton have multi-million dollar projects which will be necessary in the near future, with the spillway of concern in Fredonia and must-have updates to the Brocton water filtration plant. Because the finish line for the north county water system project is years away each municipality will have to stay afloat on its own for the time being.
"This will be a four- to five-year project when all is said and done," Edwards said. "Our needs assessment, analyzing the north county, each had a challenge whether the source, storage or distribution. They all had some challenges near-term and all long- term challenges. Until this project is completed each is going to have to invest in keeping their existing operations up and running. Certainly Senator Cathy Young and myself are up on the situation when it comes to grants or the borrowing of money and support for projects the county and state will be available."
The $35,000 pooled by the seven municipalities will be put toward the study for the initial work. It is unknown how much more the project could cost or what the scope of the project may resemble. According to Walker, representatives from Wendel Duchscherer will be scheduling meetings with leaders from each municipality to begin the groundwork. He was told seven staff members are already on the project.
In other news:
The Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corp received an OK for funding from Congressman Brian Higgins and some assistance from the city of Dunkirk for a water scaling project taking place from the water treatment plant as far as Willow Road along Route 5 in Dunkirk. The project will clean the lines and then re-coat the lines to increase the flow through the section.
"It's not an end-all procedure but it will help residents in the town of Dunkirk, Pomfret and Portland as far as increased water flow until a better system can be devised," Walker said. "This carries with it over $600,000 in grant funding and it should be a very good project for this region."
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