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Newsmaker of the month: Fredonia water ‘failure’ looms again

September’s water woes were only a part of a larger story. For years, this corner has focused on the instability and high cost to users of the Fredonia water system. In April, a new business that plans to open in July took it a step further.

William McFadden, who owns the two-acre site that was previously a Tops Express location across from Walmart, announced that Luv Car Wash, Luv Express Service and Luv Pre-Owned Auto Dealership will be built at 10398 Bennett Road. He says it will create 22 jobs and “revolutionize the car wash industry.”

His announcement was something many in the area had been awaiting for more than two years. But McFadden, who says the project will cost $3 million, went a step further on why he waited.

“The prices were way out of line,” McFadden said, noting the town was paying about three times that of the village. “It just didn’t make good business sense.”

But a new contract for water, negotiated by the Pomfret Town Board and Supervisor Dan Pacos changed everything. According to the March deal, water rates for town users will remain higher than the village — but there will be a savings.

Pomfret users will have a rate for water of $5.52 per thousand gallons with a 48-cent add on charge for water line maintenance and $7.10 per thousand gallons for sewer. That is a major decrease from previous years.

Of course, Pomfret’s leverage came from the 20 days in September where Fredonia users were told they could not drink the water. In addition, the north county water district — though not as established — has a much better record for delivering water to users.

Over a 10-year period — according to documents from the county Health Department — there have been four interruptions in service or water emergencies in the village. More problems could loom in the future for the village and those who rely on its water.

“It’s in the Health Department’s opinion that if the village does not establish a major interconnection with the city of Dunkirk there will be a catastrophic failure of some sort like what we witnessed last year that caused a month-long boil water order that will cause it again,” said Paul Snyder of the county Health Department to Village Board members during a meeting in March. “Whether it be a large water main break, boil water order caused from an algae bloom in the reservoir that clogs the filters or a major fire downtown. There’s multiple needs throughout the village. I’ve been involved since the early 2000s and have seen many improvements, but in my opinion along with the improvements at the water plant that are currently planned and are being done, the next most important improvement that needs to be done in parallel with continuous water main upgrades is a major interconnection.”

Those words — similar to Fredonia’s water plight — are tough to swallow.

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