Restaurants and other businesses had to buy water, soda, ice and get creative in their approach to serving customers while the water supply from the village of Fredonia was unavailable.
At DeJohn's on Main Street, Lisa Mancuso said, "It was just difficult because we had to buy ice, extra bottles of water and pop. We couldn't use our fountain guns. I bought two different kinds of pop in two-liter bottles, so I couldn't give people (much of) a choice."
Overnight on Nov. 28, a chemical pump system became plugged which resulted in filter beds becoming clogged, so water entering the system because cloudy with particles. The system was shut down for repairs and a boil order was issued. The feeder line from the Dunkirk water system was turned on, with some water being diverted to Carriage House. However, the Chautauqua County Health Department didn't lift the boil order until Monday afternoon.
OBSERVER photo by Shirley Pulawski
Bottled water became the norm in Fredonia after a boil order was issued following clogged filter beds at the village filtration plant on Nov. 28.
While Mayor Stephen Keefe said he believed no bacteria entered the system and the order was "precautionary," residents were told to boil any water intended for consumption and to conserve water as well.
The boil order posed challenges for the college and businesses, from restaurants to dentist's offices.
Activities were canceled at Fredonia Central Schools and water fountains were shut off. SUNY Fredonia's water fountains were also unusable, and the college is reported to have purchased large amounts of bottled water to continue activities and allow dining venues to remain open.
Restaurants had to purchase ice and other supplies made in other communities, which presented challenges and a need for adaptability to the situation.
Mancuso said, "At first we were buying jugs (of drinking water). After a while, we boiled it so we could at least give people pitchers, but that was hard because we go through a lot of water."
People in the area were unsure of whether water was safe to drink, even if it did not originate in the village. "People were confused and didn't want to get sick so they didn't know what they could have," Mancuso explained.
It will be difficult to tally the entire costs incurred throughout the village at the time it was without safe water, because the cost of purchasing water and ice was not the only expense. "I think it made our business really slow on (days during the boil order)," Mancuso shared.
Mancuso said she is "really thankful it is over. It was terrible. It just took too long, too. If it was a day or two, I could understand, but it was just so hard because it was so long."
Not everyone felt strongly about the inconvenience, however. Carol Centner of the Eastside Grille said the issue wasn't bad for her business. "It was nothing really. We had no problems at all. They told us we couldn't use ice. We had to serve bottled drinks, but other than that, it wasn't any problem," she explained.
Keefe said on Monday the village is preparing a plan to prevent a similar incident in the future. "We're looking at putting an alarm system on the mechanical system. We need to start thinking about what else can go wrong and prepare for any other possibilities," he told the OBSERVER.
On Thursday at noon, the village board of trustees is holding a special meeting, "to discuss any business that may come before the board." It is unknown if water issues will be addressed.
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