The four wells that provide water to homes and businesses in the Village of Alden are not doing well at all this summer.
A persistent drought has caused water levels in the wells to plummet, prompting Mayor Michael Manicki to issue a call for residents to avoid any unnecessary use of the precious commodity, at least until there is a decent amount of rain to replenish what’s left in the wells.
The pool at Alden High School, which serves as a municipal pool in the summers and was drained dry after the last school year for biennial maintenance, could not be refilled because of the drought, according to school officials. Things are so bad that Alden is now buying water from the Erie County Water Authority for the first time in village leaders’ memory.
“We’ve had mandatory water use restrictions in place for about two weeks now, and we just signed an agreement with the Erie County Water Authority to buy some water from them on a daily basis to supplement,” Manicki said Tuesday.
“There are mains at the village lines. We’re just going to make a temporary connection into our system so that they can supply us,” he added.
Normal water usage for the tiny village 22 miles east of Buffalo is about 220,000 gallons a day. To supplement its low reserves, Manicki said the village will need to purchase about 50,000 gallons a day from the Water Authority. That’s about 20 percent of the daily usage by the village’s 2,600 residents. To his recollection, Manicki said the village has never before experienced such bone dry conditions.
“Our water system is 116 years old and nobody can ever remember it being like this. We’ve had some dry summers, but this is the first time that we’ve ever had to put in mandatory restrictions, and this is the first time we’ve ever had to buy water from the Water Authority,” he said.
Curiously, some other municipalities in Erie County that get their water from wells and reservoirs are not in the same dire straits as the Village of Alden.
The Village of Springville, 35 miles south of Buffalo, has three wells, the water levels for which remain at normal levels, according to Village Administrator Liz Melock, who said the village has not had to issue any water conservation advisories so far.
According to its website, the Village of Akron also continues to hold acceptable levels of water, despite the historic run of hot weather with very little rain across much of the region. Akron, which is about 27 miles northeast of the city, does not have wells but gets it water from a reservoir, which has about 200 million gallons of water, according to Shaun Gloss, water treatment plant operator for the village.
“Alden has a problem, but we don’t have a problem right now. We actually got a lot of rain last week. So our reservoir actually came up,” said Gloss.
He said Akron’s reservoir, which is located in Genesee County, is only about 24 inches below normal levels for the season. While reservoir levels were lower than normal during the early part of the season, before last week’s rainfall, Gloss said that at no time was Akron forced to issue a conserve-water advisory.
Michael Caputo, a spokesman for the Erie County Water Authority, was unable to say Tuesday how many local municipalities that run their own water systems have requested to buy water from the authority because of low well or reservoir levels.
However, a dearth of water is not a problem the Erie County Water Authority is expected to have.
“We’d have to have a cataclysmic, planetary event for us to have to issue a conserve-water order,” he said.