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The city has decided to undertake a pilot project using ozone instead of chlorine to purify the drinking water.

James Sell, chief operator of the water plant, said Friday that a separate plant will be set up during the summer and that only ozone will be used to purify the water there. After the tests, the water will be disposed of and will not enter the city's water-distribution system.

The $400,000 project is funded jointly by Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. USR Greiner Inc. of Buffalo will serve as engineers for the project, and the University at Buffalo will provide personnel to run equipment, perform some testing, and collect and analyze data.

The program will test whether using ozone will eliminate giardia and cryptosporidium, two microscopic parasites that cause intestinal illnesses.

"The program will show whether there is something else that can be used to purify water besides chlorine," Sell said.

"Alternatives include liquid chlorine instead of gas or ultraviolet light. Chlorine dioxide and other compounds could also be considered."

The city gets its water from Lake Erie. In addition to the city, the system serves parts of the Town of Dunkirk and some customers in the Towns of Pomfret, Portland and Sheridan. Included are the industrial park in Sheridan and the commercial areas along Vineyard Drive.

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