Regional approach

As the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation took another step toward establishing a regional water system, many questions were raised.

Among other business items, the group adopted a resolution setting the city of Dunkirk as the lead applicant for a local government efficiency grant to “seek funding for the further advancement of this (regional water system) project.”

Participating communities would be required to each commit to sharing 10 percent of the cost of $40,000 required to help match the grant amount, expected to be $50,000 if the grant is received. The other $10,000 is expected to be raised through in-kind services and other sources, according to town of Pomfret Supervisor and CBRDC Treasurer Don Steger.

The figure presumes all 10 of the municipalities included in the project will agree to sign onto the grant’s purpose, “to further explore a regional approach to water distribution,” as stated in the resolution.

Eric Wies of engineering firm Clark Patterson Lee updated the members of the CBRDC, almost all of whom are elected officials in area communities, on the regional water system plans and took questions from members and visitors.

Village of Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe asked Weis about the use of the Erie County Water Authority as the backup source of water. “I’ve got a major concerns there. … With Erie County, we have no voice, no choice in making decisions,” he said.

Dunkirk Fourth Ward Councilperson Stacy Szukala also shared concerns.

“Why have Erie County as backup? Why can’t we keep it in Chautauqua County?” she asked.

Wies said the decision to have ECWA as the backup source is based on finances.

“The key factor is cost,” he explained, because the Erie County facility already exists, while the cost to build or upgrade other plants is high.

Dunkirk’s water treatment plant Chief Operator Rob Lawrie was also present and was asked about plant capacity after state-mandated upgrades are made. He said a plant capacity of 7 million gallons per day means about 6 to 6.5 million gallons a day of water filtration would be likely, while all usage demand in northern Chautauqua County totals about 6.4 million gallons per day.

Town of Portland Supervisor and CBRDC Chair Daniel Schrantz said the village of Brocton has good water but it would cost up to $5 million to upgrade the plant.

“We need to find the lowest cost and the most availability. … We love our water, but what is the best use? Maybe to hook up to a regional water system,” he said, and added upgrading the Brocton plant, “would only make the water cost more, not less.”

Patrick Brennan of the Brennan Group was also present to answer questions. He was asked if municipalities ever turn down grants because they aren’t willing or able to cover the required matching funds.

“It happens. It’s awkward, but sometimes grants are turned down,” Brennan stated, and assured the group it is not obligated to accept the grant.

The resolution was unanimously approved and the local government efficiency grant application will be submitted by CBRDC President Kathy Tampio.

Comments on this article may be sent to spulawski@observertoday.com