NIAGARA FALLS – Around 30 to 40 residences and businesses had their water services interrupted in recent days, with the city declaring a limited state of emergency to help residents on two streets the LaSalle neighborhood.
Homes on 72nd and 77th Street, the 1900 block of 19th Street near Walnut Avenue, as well as a section of Pine Avenue and five businesses in Haeberle Plaza lost water.
Some homes in the 500 block of 72nd Street and the 400 block of 77th Street lost water, with the earliest case reported last Monday. Other homes reported losing service as recently as Thursday and Friday, Mayor Paul A. Dyster said.
While it’s not unusual for some water lines to freeze during the frigid winter months, “there was a cluster of these that was growing in one particular area,” Dyster said.
Describing the situation as one that seemed impossible to be a coincidence, Dyster said he declared a limited state of emergency Sunday morning and the city solicited bids from contractors to fix the blocked water lines.
The lowest bidder was Gross PHC, Dyster said.
A firm was hired to help because the city determined it was beyond the capability of individual homeowners to remedy the situation, Dyster said, even though homeowners are responsible for the section of water line from the main line in the street to their home.
The city also got involved because some of the attempts by homeowners to get water lines flowing were unsuccessful.
The mayor would not go so far as to say each water outage was because of frozen water lines, though many of the homes were having their lines thawed.
Contractors are using a thawing method involving electricity, one that requires a flow of electrical current through the water lines of houses on both sides of the street.
Niagara Falls Water Board Executive Director Paul J. Drof said the five new clusters are being added to a program that in which customers are allowed to let water lines trickle from mid-December through March in order to prevent freezing.
The program already includes about 40 customers in areas where freezing water lines have been seen regularly in years past, Drof said.
The Water Board provides a credit to customers in the program for some of the water used, he said.
While the cause of the concentrated outages has not been determined, Dyster said there about six theories about what may have happened and it would be premature to discuss the possibilities.
Residents whose homes are without water can receive some at the fire hall at 72nd Street and Frontier Avenue. The hall is also open for affected residents looking to take a shower.