CBRDC vying for regional water

A regional water system was among topics of discussion at a recent meeting of the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation, held in the town of Dunkirk at Shorewood Country Club.

Meeting attendees included members of various town and village boards across the region.

Rick Henry of engineering firm Clark Patterson Lee addressed the board regarding delivery of water to municipalities and advantages of a regional water district. Henry told members of the CBRDC pumping water to municipalities is not as costly as it was in the past, and soon, Dunkirk’s water system will be able to provide large amounts of water to the region after upgrades are completed.

Henry said the ability to have gravity supply water to a community no longer provides significant advantages to delivery.

He explained the community in which he lives pumps water from Lake Ontario up about 850 feet above the lake level. “It doesn’t cost much to pump water,” he explained, after being asked about recent problems with Fredonia’s water systems by several in attendance.

“My gut feeling is it would cost more to upgrade the reservoir in Fredonia than to pump water into the village by connecting to Dunkirk. … Every improvement at the reservoir costs money,” he explained.

However, once a regional system was developed, Henry explained if Fredonia felt it was in its best interest to do so, “Fredonia could stay in the water business.”

If Fredonia opted out of producing and selling water, Henry explained decommissioning may not be as expensive as it may have cost in other districts in the past or as high as some have speculated over the years. “Decommissioning could be as easy as turning off a light and locking the door,” he said.

Pomfret Town Supervisor and CBRDC Treasurer Don Steger was asked how municipalities could save money with a regional system. By comparing to how the town of Pomfret is entering into its water agreement with the village of Fredonia, Steger explained the purpose of a district is to set a low price for the cost of water and its delivery to the municipal boundary, but the municipality would be responsible for delivery to homes and businesses within the boundaries.

“The town has the overhead of installation. Other areas might have costs in repairs. The district reduces the cost of water,” Steger explained.

Portland Supervisor and CBRDC Chairperson Dan Schrantz said the area could live with the “status quo or move to regional water,” and added, “The availability of water for large companies is still not here.”

Schrantz said the CBRDC must act on water issues decisively and with speed. “Time for us to show we’re being aggressive about this. It’s time to sit down with local boards,” Schrantz told the members present.

Henry said a regional water system could be implemented within a few years. “If all the communities come to the table … and sit down and figure it out, it could be done by 2014 … including Dunkirk’s schedule (for completion of upgrades).”