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Water supply line repairs approved

A break in the city's raw water supply line could result in tearing up a major intersection on the Wheatfield-North Tonawanda border, while Lockport residents could end up drinking Erie Canal water during the repairs.

That was the worst-case scenario painted by city Director of Engineering Norman D. Allen Wednesday, as the Common Council accepted his request to appropriate $150,000 for emergency repairs to the water line.

The 13-mile long pipe from the Niagara River has sprung a leak somewhere near Niagara Falls Boulevard and Shawnee Road, Allen reported. He said he learned of the problem Monday.

"We see about 50,000 gallons of water a day coming to the surface," Allen said. That water is draining beneath the railroad crossing at the intersection into nearby Sawyer Creek.

The Council agreed to hire Yarussi Construction of Niagara Falls to find the leak and repair it and the roadway.

Allen said, "There's a chance it could be on the shoulder [of the road]. There's also a chance it could be under the intersection of Niagara Falls Boulevard and Shawnee Road, which would be a considerable expense."

Allen said the $150,000 estimate is "a shot in the dark." He said if the trouble is not in an area that would require digging up too much pavement, "It could only be a small fraction of that."

The city has reserve water in a tank at its Summit Street filtration plant and in the Outwater Park water tower. But Allen said the repairs to the supply line won't start until the city has activated its emergency pump to take water from the Erie Canal, just in case. The canal water, like the river water, would be treated before being pumped to customers.

On another canal topic, the Council approved the second phase of the city's contract with Bergmann Associates of Rochester for more engineering plans for the restoration of the Flight of Five, the original canal locks.

Bergmann was paid $91,684 under the first phase of the pact, which called on it to provide cost estimates for the recommended work. The second phase, to cost $136,400, involves finding the solutions to a long list of technical questions, such as where the water overflowing from the modern locks can be sent if the Flight of Five is no longer available as a spillway.

The restoration is to cost as much as $15 million, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said.

The Council also approved a special use permit for the Historic Palace theater to attach an 18-by-37-foot vinyl banner to the Elm Street wall of the theater, listing contributing sponsors.

Alderman Joseph C. Kibler, R-at Large, voted no because he felt the banner would be too big. Alderman Thomas F. Grzebinski II, R-1st Ward, who had opposed the move because the city would be waiving the $100 sign fee, changed his mind and voted yes.


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