By TOM KIRKPATRICK
The trials of some Silver Creek homeowners with their recent water billings reminded me of when my family moved to Silver Creek. We had lived in Clarence and on moving to Silver Creek our annual water cost nearly quadrupled.
We were shocked and our children's showers were timed. Not only did the cost rise but some days it was cloudy with a brownish green hue and on other days ugly looking particles were suspended in it. Once my wife left a bowl of water sitting on the counter and later we found that brown eddies of dirt had formed on the bottom, much as sand forms eddies on a beach. When I was on a fire base in Vietnam my battery used to get water from a water point that drew it from a stream that emerged from a swamp. That swamp water generally looked better and tasted better than Silver Creek water did.
I used to tell my wife that I wanted to put a filter on the water line, not just to filter the sediment out, but based on the very high cost of the water, the gold, silver or other precious metals that must have been in it.
Water quality improved, or at least the appearance did, when Silver Creek, the Seneca Nation and the town of Hanover linked to the Erie County Water Authority at its Sturgeon Point intake. The cost, of course, continued upward. The authority is a state agency with a checkered past. It is peopled by political hacks from both parties and appointment is based on who you know and if you contribute to the correct politician.
There is no need to know about water. The geniuses in charge at the authority once sat on a multi-million dollar surplus rather than provide for emergency power backup for the Sturgeon Point pumps. During the October snowstorm of several years ago, Sturgeon point nearly lost power for its pumps, which in turn, would have caused Silver Creek to lose its water.
You wonder how much the cost of water purchased from the authority is inflated through stupidity or incompetence. Northern Chautauqua County needs its own regional water agency that will supply water for the benefit of county residents and businesses but not as a convenient place to dump incompetent relatives and political hacks.
For those who received unusually large water bills this month let me relate a story. Several years ago we received a bill that was several times normal. I requested that the village read the meter again and guess what, it was human error.
I know that the new meters have all kinds of bells and whistles, but isn't it possible that in the removal of the old meters and the installation of new meters, transposition errors could have occurred in reading or recording the data from the old meter?
Maybe the old meter readings should be checked but I'll bet that like Lois Lerner's hard drive the old meters are long gone.
Tom Kirkpatrick is a Silver Cree resident.