Share this article

print logo

Chautauqua County Water Agency board moves forward with water district plan

DUNKIRK – The Chautauqua County Water Agency board of directors Thursday approved a plan to move forward with the creation of a water district in northern Chautauqua County.

The board, meeting in the State University Incubator building in Dunkirk, also talked about progress in creating the district.

“We are asking you for two motions tonight –one is to approve a plan for the North County Water District,” said County Executive Vince Horrigan. “We also want you to tell the county to go bond for $21 million.”

Agency members include the City of Dunkirk Council and Mayor A.J. Dolce; Fredonia Village Board and Mayor Steve Keefe; and representatives from the villages of Silver Creek and Brocton, and towns of Hanover, Sheridan, Dunkirk, Pomfret and Portland. Dolce introduced the motion to approve the plan and continue discussions for the regional district. The motion received 11 yes votes.

“Everybody has to look at this like buying into a district,” said Chautauqua County Legislator Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk.

Horrigan said tentative goals of the district are to reduce the cost of operation and maintenance for producing safe water, and expanding municipal water service to rural areas that currently tap into wells.

The county executive said the project could also provide economic development opportunities for the region.

“To be successful, I believe we all have to be able to explain this program,” he said.

“We have to grow this county,” he said. “We have to be able to have the infrastructure,” Horrigan continued. He said there have been two prospective buyers looking to expand in the area.

The sources for the water would be the City of Dunkirk and Village of Fredonia. Dunkirk’s water treatment plant has a capacity of 6.5 million gallons per day and Fredonia can provide another 2.5 million gallons.

He said Silver Creek and the Town of Hanover would not be joining the project until their contracts expire with the Erie County Water Authority in five years. He said Forestville, Westfield and Ripley may be interested in participating in a second phase of the water project in a few years.

Horrigan said that serving the Village of Brocton is a priority of the project because their water system is in need of major repairs.

Horrigan said the county will bond the project to develop the district and will plan to spend about $21 million over the next five years. He said the City of Dunkirk’s plant will continue to serve city residents and have the city sell water to residents in the new district. He said the proposed rate would be $3.01 for each 1,000 gallons. Fredonia would also continue to operate for village customers and also sell water at the same rate.

Horrigan said the county will need to add a rate of $1.29 for debt service onto the water rate and an additional 11 cents for each 1,000 gallons to help pay for transmission of the water. He estimates that the 30-year bonds for the project would have a 3 percent interest rate.

The county executive provided the group with a cost analysis associated with the project.

“We will use some available funding to stabilize rates to support existing out of city and village water sales revenues over a five-year period,” said Horrigan.