The employees of the Dunkirk Ministry of Public Works were pushed to the limit. Early on the morning of August 31, a major break in the water line on Lake Shore Drive not only closed the main thoroughfare to traffic, but also put the city in disarray.
Working tirelessly, it was up to this 10-person team to find and repair the breakdown in a system that serves some 21,000 residents. That same morning, as residents woke up, places across the municipality were in trouble.
The Brooks-TLC hospital system went two days without water. Schools in Dunkirk, which opened to teachers on September 1, have given staff the option of working from home due to low capacity and pressure levels in the buildings.
On Thursday, September 2, everything seemed to be back to normal. However, all users in the city – as well as those linked to the North County Water District – were told to follow a boil water order for two additional days to ensure no harmful bacteria were present. in the system.
Two days later, the boil water advisory was lifted. But this problem is far from being resolved.
who live in Fredonia are all too aware of the problems we face with the deterioration of our water supply systems and difficult infrastructure. Over the past two weeks, users in the village have complained about brown colored water and an unpleasant odor related to their system.
Last week, the Chautauqua County Health Department got involved as its environmental health unit determined that the village’s water was safe for customers to consume and use. It still did not suit many users.
A client from the village noted on social media that she filled her hot tub with Fredonia water earlier in the week, which sparked some of the turmoil over the system. Unfortunately, this luxury item looked like a stagnant pond.
Even those in Mayville, who have had a few issues over the past year, must be wondering when it is really safe to drink and use municipal water.
These drawbacks, however, are the rare times the community is engaged on this important issue. Infrastructure is part of the problem, but stubborn ways of maintaining old and failing systems are another part of the problem.
Earlier this month, Pomfret Town Supervisor Dan Pacos made a great suggestion that was largely ignored by the Chadwick Bay County Intermunicipal Water District. If something is wrong with Dunkirk – the main supplier – get the village back.
His idea was not warmly received. Fredonia, who ended all discussion of district membership in 2012, is usually her worst enemy. This could have been part of the solution years ago, but has drifted away from the talks.
Now, when district members hear the name of the village, it is usually quickly rejected. You can understand some of the animosity, but that doesn’t allow for progress or partnerships.
It was part of Pacos’ advocacy – and the district needs to get over that. One of their other relief providers, the Erie County Water Authority has had its share of controversy over the years. However, when it comes to producing clean water, there have been few quality issues.
While our county relies on smaller-scale operations with few staff, the Erie County Water Authority is responsible for the treatment and distribution of 25 billion gallons of safe, clean, and potable drinking water each year to over 540,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in 36 municipalities located in Erie County and parts of Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Western Wyoming and Western Genesee counties, as well as the Indian Nation Territories Seneca.
Sometimes the bigger the better. There is potential for more income – and greater staffing in an emergency.
Dunkirk being one of the main suppliers of the North County hydrographic district, there is already a regional use project. When is the right time to consider going to one or two major suppliers in the county?
It is a question of leadership, which prefers to take the easy road of the status quo than that of progress. But taking this road is another water emergency, which usually seems to be around the corner.
John D’Agostino is the editor of the OBSERVER, Post-Journal and Times Observer in Warren, PA. Send your comments to [email protected] or call 366-3000, ext. 253.