Water district tops council’s list of concerns

Water issues with the city of Dunkirk, either with leaks or a proposed North County water district, were under discussion during a meeting of the Common Council on Tuesday.

Councilwoman-at-Large Stephanie Kiyak talked about the proposed water district when she read a prepared statement during the meeting. She began by talking about the recent Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation meeting and the North County Water Agency meeting that followed that she, along with other city officials, attended.

“And while even after nearly two years, a lot of basic information still needs to be collected and analyzed, it was good to get the perspective from so many area community leaders. It was interesting to hear supervisor after supervisor, and mayor after mayor, express support for some type of coordinated effort for water in the north county, as long as each community’s ratepayers were not adversely affected by higher rates or fees or charges,” Kiyak stated. “I just wanted to let the city ratepayers know that before any agreements are reached involving the city, it is our intention to have the proposals carefully studied in order to make sure that city ratepayers are in no way adversely affected.”

Kiyak added more on the proposed district after the meeting, saying council will get a seat on the agency board but a council member has not been selected yet.

“I know that the idea of coming together to work toward the goal of regionalization is moving at a pace, slowly but surely. As I said in the statement, everyone present there made it well known that they were onboard as long as their ratepayers were not affected adversely, and of course we feel the same way about Dunkirk,” she stated.

“We’re all working toward how regionalization will work, so I think at this point we’re all onboard, it’s just what are the details for that. So more meetings, more information needs to be forthcoming,” Kiyak said.

When asked who will pay for the district and needed work if it’s not the ratepayers, Kiyak replied it wouldn’t be city ratepayers.

“In the past there were references to the idea that Dunkirk should sacrifice. I can tell you right now that Dunkirk is not sacrificing,” she added. “We’re already paying for the upgrades to our water plant, we’re already providing the service. We have the plant. We are more than willing to sell our services to everyone. It’s a matter of just getting the pipes in the ground and connecting it to us.

“So the idea of regionalization at the nuts and bolts of it, that’s a done deal. We’re all in agreement that pipes need to go in the ground and we need to sell it. Now how it’s going to be as far as whether an agency is going to be in control, or whether we’re selling it to them, that’s the stuff that needs to be figured out.”

Kiyak said the city will need all officials onboard before moving forward.

“Everyone needs to be OK with what numbers come up before we say, ‘yes, this is a good deal.’ … This is probably one of the most important things we’ll be deciding since Urban Renewal was decided,” she explained. “So before we say yes and move forward, we will make sure everything is well known. There will be no unknowns. We’re not leaping, we’re not jumping. We don’t need to leap or jump.”

Second Ward Councilman William J. Rivera said he was getting frustrated with the meetings as they seem redundant.

“We go to these meetings and the need for every municipality in this county is obviously there. We have the product, we have the water,” he explained. “It’s time for us to get moving, and I think what seems to be the bump in the road is that we all need to come to the consensus that the group … needs to focus on the infrastructure of the district.

“We have the product, we’re more than willing to sell it. I can guarantee to Dunkirk residents that things will be fair to them and I can guarantee to any other municipality that wants to buy water from us that things will be absolutely fair to them.”

As for the water leaks, Mayor Anthony J. Dolce said a large one at the wastewater treatment plant will be dealt with today.

“Everything is operating as normal, there’s no concern there, but it’s something that if it goes unattended for so long then it would cause problems. We should have someone onsite tomorrow making the necessary repairs,” he stated after the meeting,” he explained. “It’s been going on for a few days now, it adds up. It’s one of those things where you’re dealing with so many of them across the city that you have to prioritize and this is one where we have to bring in some bigger equipment to get it done right. … It has the potential to do some damage to the inside of the plant so we’ve got some significant digging to do to get it fixed.”

Send comments to