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Water main breaks curb quality of life on one Orchard Park street

It can happen in the middle of the night or in broad daylight.

It's always unexpected, and it's never a good time for a water main to break.

But on one street in Eagle Heights subdivision in Orchard Park, there were three breaks last month. That makes 27 broken pipes in 20 years.

Mary Jude Eck-Sovinski and other neighbors from Timberlake Drive complained to the Town Board at its June 6 meeting, the day after a break. They returned last Wednesday with a petition signed by residents on the street, sick of the road being dug up, water gushing out and the lack of water during repairs.

"I personally am sick of cleaning soot and debris from my toilet," said Bob Rucker.

Then they went home to sleep, only to be confronted with another break hours later. Eck-Sovinski sent an email to Town Board members at 4:35 a.m. Thursday.

"It is now 4:15 a.m., and a work crew from the Water Authority has large lights on the ditch and is digging up the pipe. It is disruptive but necessary," she wrote in her email. "The quality of life on our street is rapidly decreasing while the health and safety concerns increase. Right now, the two closest fire hydrants to my house have no water."

She had awakened at 3 a.m. and discovered there was no water. The Erie County Water Authority told her a call came in about 1 a.m. about low water pressure on Red Brick Road. A truck was sent out and the leak was found on Timberlake.

"We really enjoy living here, and the services are nice," she said. "Nobody gets upset until the next water main break."

The Water Authority notified the town in 2009 that the main should be repaired, according to Executive Director Robert Mendez.

"It is a lease-managed area, therefore the infrastructure is the responsibility of the town," he said. "On an annual basis for all our lease-managed areas, we provide a list of pipelines that should be replaced."

He said the authority is recommending that 1,300 linear feet of 6-inch line be replaced on Timberlake.

Town Engineer Wayne Bieler confirmed the Timberlake section is on the town's list of possible capital projects. The cost is about $300,000 for the section and about $500,000 for the entire road, he said.

"We would have to go out to bond," he said.

The Town Board plans to discuss capital projects such as the water line replacement at its Wednesday evening work session.

Meanwhile, Timberlake Drive residents wait for the next break. They tell new neighbors to keep bottled water on hand in case of a break.

But they're also trying to look on the bright side. They are planning a block party with a water break theme. One of the games will be to guess the date of the next break.

"Hopefully nobody will win it," Eck-Sovinski said.