TOWN OF NIAGARA – The Niagara Falls Water Board told the Town of Niagara on Friday that it intends to cut off sewer service to the town April 30, as the municipalities have been unable to agree on a contract extension.
Town Supervisor Steven C. Richards was unimpressed.
“I don’t think the county Health Department would let them stop taking our flow,” Richards said. “We would run right to court to get an injunction.”
Richards said his plan is to disconnect city sewer service to three parts of the town, which he said are the areas that have the most sewer backups.
He said he has a $2.3 million engineering estimate of the cost to connect the Belden Center, Veterans Heights and Cayuga Village neighborhoods to the Niagara County Sewer District system used by the rest of the town.
He said that such a project couldn’t be done by April 30, but it could be completed by Dec. 31.
Richards said he’d rather do that than pay the city $1 million a year for service to the three neighborhoods. He said that’s the city’s demand, which would be a substantial increase.
He said the town now pays the Niagara Falls Water Board $200,000 to $220,000 a year for that sewer service, a price based on water usage statistics the town gives to the city. The water comes from the county Water District.
Those usage figures are one of the main bones of contention. Friday’s letter to Richards from Water Board Executive Director Paul J. Drof said the city wants to bill the town based on actual water flow, “not a flat fee based upon estimates from many years ago that do not reflect growth in the town since that time, including the expansion of the Fashion Outlets Mall.”
“The status quo of an agreement from 1999 is obviously good for the town, but it certainly is not for the NFWB and our more than 19,000 residential, commercial and industrial ratepayers in the City of Niagara Falls who no longer deserve this unfair burden,” the Water Board said in a news release.
Richards said the mall area is generating less sewage because of the removal of the old Sabre Park mobile home community, which once had 281 homes. The mall owners bought the property for the expansion of the shopping center.
Drof’s letter contended that the town hasn’t bargained on a new deal since insisting on a continuation of the current pricing structure and its decision to explore a connection to the county Sewer District for the three neighborhoods.
Richards said the town is paying the county about $265,000 a year to treat 250 million gallons of sanitary sewage from the remainder of the town. He said the sewage flow to the city from the three affected neighborhoods is about 100 million gallons a year.
“Right now, I’m heading full speed ahead to the county,” Richards said. “I’ve never allowed anybody to put a gun to my head.”
The municipalities have been operating under terms of a 1999 sewer agreement. The city threatened to cut off service in 2011, but an extension was negotiated.
Drof’s letter said the city will continue to provide service to private customers in the town that the Water Board bills directly, such as TAM Ceramics.