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Officials eye takeover of water system by county Seek funds to investigate cost to transfer service

Village of Hamburg officials are looking into having the Erie County Water Authority take over the village's water system.

"We are under a lease-management system with them now," Village Administrator Donald Witkowski said.

The Water Authority services and maintains the system and bills customers under the lease-management agreement, and the village is responsible for capital improvements.

"Eventually we intend to get to the point of them taking over the entire system," Witkowski said.

The village and Water Authority have agreed to apply for a state grant of up to $50,000 to investigate the cost of having the authority take over the system.

It's similar to the process being undertaken by the village to have Erie County Sewer District 3 take over the village sewer system.

Village officials don't know how much it will cost to bring the water pipes and pump stations up to the standards required by the Water Authority. Some of the pipes are too small, and other improvements are needed.

"Right now we're looking at more than $4 million in costs," Witkowski said of current problems.

The village earlier this year submitted a request for federal stimulus money for upgrading undersized water lines. The estimate for that work was about $4 million, and there is other work that needs to be done, he said.

The water service study will identify all the improvements that need to be done, how much they would cost and how they could be financed.

"We're not sure it would be financially feasible," Witkowski said.

The Water Authority has had a lease-management agreement with the village since 1977, Witkowski said.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com