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Town of Lockport aims to stamp out free irrigation

LOCKPORT - In recent years, it's been possible for someone to open a fire hydrant in the Town of Lockport, pump thousands of gallons of water to irrigate a farm field or a lawn, and get away with not paying for it.

Wednesday, the Town Board intends to pass a measure that would put a stop to that.

Town Engineer Robert D. Klavoon said such water use is not supposed to be free, but sometimes it turns out that way.

"It was inconsistent," Klavoon said at Monday's Town Board work session. Some contractors used their own water meters. Sometimes they didn't work right, and the water usage wasn't reported to the town.

"Then the town had to eat that," Klavoon said.

The town makes its own hydrant meters available to those who request them, and the board is expected to make that mandatory, with fees attached.

The town will charge $250 to rent out a 1-inch water meter for use with a hydrant, and $350 for a 2-inch meter. In addition, the new law will impose fees of $500 or $1,000 for replacing the meters if they are damaged.

In addition, the town will charge $1.90 per 1,000 gallons for the water.

"This past summer, we had 15 of those assemblies out at various times," Klavoon said. The portable meter setup will be chained to the hydrant with a town-owned lock to better prevent the chance of water theft.

"It keeps the town's water loss under control," Klavoon explained.

So does waterline repair, and the board is expected to approve an expanded list of waterline replacement projects for the next few years at the meeting Wednesday.

Because recent waterline projects have cost less than estimated, the town is able to add more roads to the schedule without increasing the $14 million bond issue it took out in 2014 to pay for such work. Also part of the plan is the replacement of more than 1,000 old residential water meters with more accurate models.

The town already has awarded CATCO of Alden a $2.18 million contract for replacement of more than four miles of water pipes on parts of Bowmiller, Upper Mountain, Leete, Purdy and Slayton Settlement roads in 2017. Wendel, the engineering firm where Klavoon works, is to be paid $230,000 for construction supervision, if the board agrees as expected Wednesday.

Coming up next is replacement of nearly three miles of waterline on Junction Road and 1.5 miles of pipe on Wicks and Slayton Settlement roads. The board is expected to vote Wednesday to pay Wendel $225,000 to design those projects for next year. The total cost of the replacements is estimated at $3.1 million.

Klavoon said there have been 53 water main breaks on Junction Road in the last 15 years, along with 20 breaks on Wicks Road.

Other resolutions Wednesday would:

  • Pay Wendel $436,700 for construction supervision services on the rehabilitation of 23 sewer pump stations throughout the town, including the installation of natural gas-fired emergency generators at those locations. A $793,300 contract for replacement of four of those pump stations was awarded last month to STC Construction of Springville.
  • Rehire Mark Cerrone Inc. of Niagara Falls, which has been the town's standby infrastructure repair firm for the past five years, for another five years: one year guaranteed and four annual extensions. Cerrone outbid three other construction companies for the contract, with a cost of $149,860. Klavoon said that is supposed to cover five years' worth of work, but it probably won't; about $50,000 was paid to Cerrone this year for water and sewer repairs that were too big for the town to handle itself. The town will have to add more money in the form of a change order when the $149,860 runs out.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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