New water organization established

The Chautauqua County Water Agency held its first meeting in Dunkirk City Hall Thursday night to discuss the regional water plan.

The first order of business was to establish a chairman and vice chairman of the new organization.

Pomfret Town Supervisor Don Steger was appointed chairman.

Brocton Village Mayor David Hazelton was appointed vice chairman.

County Attorney Steve Abdella said he believes it is in the best interest of the county to establish a water agency.

“The purpose of the Water Agency is to come up with plans to share with the county,” he said. “The Water Agency will pick up where Chadwick Bay (Regional Development Corporation) left off.”

Clark Patterson Lee Engineer Rick Henry and Brennan Group Consulting LLC Consultant Patrick Brennan were hired to work on the regional water project and establish the Northern Chautauqua County Water District.

Henry pointed out for the last several weeks he and Chautauqua County Legislature Clerk Kathy Tampio have been working with the department of state to approve an efficiency plan.

“We are here to listen to the group and hear about any concerns you may have about the project,” Henry said. “No decisions have been made.”

Brennan announced to the group there is a new registry at the department of state.

“If you’re receiving or plan to receive a grant from the state you now have to register,” he said. “The account will help us to streamline the reimbursement process.”

There are three grants that have been set in motion to help fund the regional water project.

The first grant is for $150,000, which was matched by the agency to total $300,000; the second is for $400,000, and the third is for $1 million.

Each representative of the communities present at the meeting spoke of their hopes for the future of the regional water project.

Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe said he wants Fredonia to be a part of the regional water district.

“Erie County and Dunkirk are our prime source of water,” he said. “We have been missing vital things and we want a fair part of this vision.”

Hazelton voiced his concerns about the regional water project.

“We have been waiting patiently on this,” he said. “The regional water system needs to pay back; this has been a very slow process.”

Portland Town Supervisor Dan Schrantz explained Portland buys water and doesn’t produce it.

“We are looking for water for our customers and economic development,” he said. “We want a bigger upgrade to the Dunkirk plant.”

Dunkirk Town Supervisor Richard Purol added his concerns about the town’s waterlines.

“We sit in the middle of a lot of townships,” he said. “Our lines are bad and we think it is very important to have regional water.”

Hanover Town Supervisor Todd Johnson pointed out his town is also buying water.

“We are consumers of water; not producers,” he said. “This has to benefit our residents and we support it; hope it goes through and functions well.”

Silver Creek Village Mayor Nick Piccolo added he is in the same boat as the town of Hanover.

“We buy our water through a contract we have with Erie County,” he said. “We are in this contract until 2019 and by that time we hope this regional water plan will be developed – we want a more competitive option – right now we are held captive by Erie and we are at their beck and call.”

Steger said he wants to see the water improvements in place for his town.

“Our goal is to serve residents economic stability,” he said. “We want people to have confidence the water they need to live a normal life will be there.”

Steger added he has been working on this dream of a northern water district for 15 years now and he is very enthusiastic to see everyone pointing in the same direction.

County Executive Vince Horrigan announced he has been talking with people for the last two months and is excited about the regional concept being embraced.

“We have the funding in place to make a really good choice,” he said. “This is critical to an economic future in the area and the county will help any way we can; we all need to work together.”