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WATER SHORTAGE FLOODS TOWNS WITH PLEAS FOR REMEDY

Finding enough water to flush her toilet is a daily battle for Joyce Bischof.

Every day, she fills her bathtub with what's left of the shower dribble, scoops it up and then pours it into their toilet so it can be flushed.

The Eden mother can only wash one load of dishes a day, and her children had next to no water for a shower the first day of school -- like many of her neighbors along Paxon Road.

A quick shower in the Bischof home is just that: Get under the water, shut it off, soap up, turn it back on, and hope there's enough water to rinse.

Bischof hasn't washed clothes at her house since May, forcing her to do her laundry at her mother's home.

"You have to be very careful. You don't wash your hands a whole lot or flush your toilet a whole lot, and that's not very sanitary," said Bischof. "But you do what you've got to do to save the water. To water my plants, we put big wine barrels under gutters to catch the rain."

The Bischofs' plight isn't exactly a drop in the suburban bucket, where depleted water tables have resulted in more and more calls on government to create water districts.

Bischof and her husband, John, and their two children live in a section of town where, since mid-August, many residents have been pleading with the town to help them hook into public water despite the projected $1.75 million price tag.

Because their well is running dry, the Bischofs bought a 200-gallon water tank and keep it on the back of their pickup truck. Daily, they drive to the home of Mrs. Bischof's mother in Buffalo, fill the tank with city water, then return home to dump it into their well.

They are not alone. In all, 43 residents on Paxon signed a petition requesting the Town Board's help in creating a special water district extension in the Paxon and Jennings Road area -- citing poor water quality, a lack of water, and decreasing water table every time a new home is built.

Some homeowners are paying to have water delivered weekly, just for cooking and drinking, or just to have enough to shower and flush their toilets. For years, many have had to leave home to do their laundry. To some, it boils down to an emergency.

Eden isn't the only rural community where people are clamoring for public water no matter what the cost. Water is a hot topic in the towns of Aurora and Boston as well, where private wells are not at the levels they should be. Depleted water tables further complicate the situation, with more and more people sharing the same water supply as new homes are built.

Paxon Road resident Alan Young is one of the few on his street who doesn't have a shortage of water. But he does shell out money to treat their water extensively through a specialized filtration process that removes iron, salt and hardness in the water.

"We have a very deep well and a large spring-fed pond for our horses and watering flowers," Young said. "But we restrict use of the well water to the house."

Young says it's time that something be done, given the reduced water table and watching his neighbors struggle to find barely enough water to get by.

"You hate to see your neighbors in distress. It's a health issue, and there's a side benefit from a safety perspective in getting fire hydrants," he said. "Just the fact that you could turn on a faucet and know you've got water. To me, it's the right thing to do. You can't get much more basic than having water.''

The town seems poised to help them. The Town
See Water Page B4
Water: Hookup would take a year
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Board voted unanimously last week to circulate a formal petition that residents must sign. If that is successful, the town plans to apply for a federal grant to help pay for 40 percent of the project.

The petition is critical, with a minimum of 51 percent of the affected homeowners required to sign it before the town can be considered for funding through the Rural Development Agency.

The water mains, totaling 30,800 feet of piping, would encompass 136 developed properties and 39 vacant ones. If it becomes reality, public water would come to Paxon, Kulp and Wepax roads, in addition to a section of Jennings from East Church Street to Kulp Road, continuing onto Sandrock Road at the other end of Kulp.

A pumping station would be located near an existing water tank at Jennings and East Church Street, in addition to a 150,000-gallon water storage tank on Kulp Road.

Residents would pay an estimated $430 a year per property to pay off a 38-year bond on the project, plus yearly water costs of about $160. Town officials recommended a flat-rate charge, thinking it would be fairer and have a better chance of gaining funding approval since property assessments are wide-ranging in that area.

Supervisor Glenn Nellis expects the competition for government money for water projects to be fierce, given the dry summer the area experienced. If everything goes as planned, it would be at least a year before that area gets public water.

"I've talked to enough of the people up there, that it's not only a question of the quantity of water but also the quality of water, as well," Nellis said. "There's the smell of sulfur and discoloration. There's no question there is a need."

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