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FALLS WATER LEAK AWASH IN CONFUSION; CITY OFFICIALS HAVE YET TO ESTABLISH THE CAUSE AND AMOUNT

Some confusion apparently remains about the cause, location and exact size of last week's leak of millions of gallons of municipal water.

John R. Westendorf, the city's director of water facilities, said Monday that the leak, estimated at 4 million gallons, occurred at Carbon Graphite Group, 4861 Packard Road. Authorities originally reported it at the Great Lakes Carbon Co. at 6200 Niagara Falls Blvd.

Westendorf said confusion may have arisen because "they are both carbon graphite producers and both border on CECOS."

John P. Monago Jr., production manager for Carbon Graphite, confirmed the leak in a 12-inch water main on the company's property, but he said he did not know the cause.

Monago said he believed the leak was "contained to our property."

Paul Barley, Buffalo district manager for the CECOS parent firm of Browning-Ferris Industries, said that because of this weekend's rain "there was so much water on our property I couldn't tell you where it came from."

In any case, Barley said, the water caused no problems for CECOS.

Westendorf said the exact amount of water lost and the exact cost to Carbon Graphite won't be known until the quarterly meter reading is done.

"Eventually it will show up on their water bill," Westendorf said, adding that the volume could be determined sooner only if the meter had been read immediately before and after the leak.

He estimated the bill for the lost water at $3,000 to $6,000.

The leak was suspected when workers at the city's water pumping station noticed an unusual increase in volume. Police were asked to look for broken water mains, and various industries were contacted to determine whether they were using an unusual amount of water.

The city normally pumps about 25 million gallons of water on a typical weekday.

Westendorf said 4 million gallons of water could fill "several hundred" backyard swimming pools or "many thousands of bathtubs."

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