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Lockport mayor offers plan to replace section of city’s aging drinking water supply line

LOCKPORT – Mayor Anne A. McCaffrey asked the Common Council on Wednesday for permission to apply for a state grant that would pay part of the cost of replacing the brittle last 2 miles of the city’s century-old drinking water supply pipeline from the Niagara River.

The grant could cover as much as $2 million of a project estimated at up to $5 million. However, the city would have to include in its application a source for the rest of the money.

McCaffrey proposed borrowing the necessary $2 million to $3 million on a 30-year bond issue. Director of Finance Scott A. Schrader said that would cost the city $100,000 to $150,000 a year, depending on the interest rate.

Eleven of the 13 miles of pipe were replaced in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the mayor said. But the 2 miles closest to the city’s filtration plant are original. They include a segment on Hinman Road that runs past the Lafarge North America stone quarry.

The company has been seeking city permission to expand that quarry, and has promised to pay for repairs if blasting damages the pipeline – or at least part of it.

“Lafarge is only going to cover 600 feet of that line,” Council President David R. Wohleben said.

The application to the state Environmental Facilities Corp. is due April 15. Schrader said the city won’t go ahead with the project if it doesn’t win the grant.

Alderman Richard E. Abbott, D-5th Ward, said, “We have to replace that waterline whether Lafarge is there or not.”

“If we don’t get the grant, we have to bond the whole $5 million,” said Alderman Joseph P. Oates, R-1st Ward.

The city will still want Lafarge’s guarantee, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said, because Lafarge wants to get moving on its project as soon as possible. Schrader said the city won’t be able to start construction on a new waterline for a year or two.

The city’s engineering firm, GHD, and Lafarge are to make presentations to the Council next month on the condition of the pipeline.