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Water District seeks better leak communication

The city of Dunkirk’s recent large water main break late last month spurred Chadwick Bay Intermunicipal North County Water District officials to talk about the need for better communications.

Speaking at the monthly meeting of the district’s administrative board member Dave Hazelton said, “With this major water leak, it occurred to me we ought to have a notification on a text message, so everyone gets the same message at the same time.”

Board member John Walker, the Sheridan supervisor, said the town has looked into such an alert system. Its estimated cost was $2,800, though he said he wasn’t sure if the entire county could join that particular system.

Reported just after midnight Aug. 31, the water main leak on Lake Shore Drive disrupted service for days. Its effects spread well beyond city borders, as the North County Water District buys all of its water from Dunkirk. The district includes the towns of Dunkirk, Pomfret, Portland and Sheridan.

Most district customers, except in the city, never lost their water entirely. However, they all had to deal with a boil-water order until Sept. 4 while the system was refilled and tested.

Hazelton noted, in support of his idea of a better communications system for emergencies, “Now that school’s back in, we could have a situation where we have to close the school.”

He said that the main point of such a system would be to give town clerks, supervisors and other officials accurate information quickly, in case of a water mishap.

Richard Purol, board president and Town of Dunkirk supervisor, said he received a landline alert about the leak. “I don’t know why,” he said. “It’s the first time I ever got one.”

Another board member and town supervisor, Pomfret’s Dan Pacos, suggested that a text alert system be set up according to sub-districts within the larger North County Water District. Only people in the affected area would get messages, he envisioned.

Purol read a letter from a concerned constituent who echoed the need for better communication about emergencies. “People in the water district need to know what to do if this happens again,” the letter stated.

For now, Purol said, people can call the Chadwick Bay Intermunicipal number at 792-1900.

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