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New needs arise for Dunkirk water system project

DUNKIRK – Progress on the final phases of work on Dunkirk’s water system and critical new needs were discussed during Monday’s meeting of the Dunkirk Public Works Committee.

Department of Public Works Director Tony Gugino said bids should be returned on Dec. 3 for electrical work at the Benton Street water tank. Gugino said authorization will be required or further work to be done to meet a Health Department consent order.

The county and state Health Departments submitted the consent order in 2007. Much of the work focuses on the water-purification system, major water-line replacements and general repairs to the building, including a new roof. A new 2-million-gallon water storage tank on Willowbrook Avenue also was installed under the consent decree.

Gugino noted that new infrastructue issues have emerged since the decree.

“Prior to the consent order, we were written up for failing to maintain the plant,” said Gugino, who added that among the issues is the deterioration of the sea wall behind the water treatment plant on Route 5. He said that the sea wall supports the building, on the shore of Lake Erie. Further testing on the foundation of the building will be required to determine how much work needs to be done to secure the base and soil.

The total cost of repairs and upgrades is now estimated at $19 million. Gugino said additional costs have been factored in for inflation, borrowing costs and the sea wall repairs.

Some of the improvements are positioning Dunkirk as the major supplier for a regional water system throughout northern Chautauqua County.

“Coincidentally, a lot of the work poises the city to be the major supplier,” Gugino added.

Committee Chairwoman Stacy Szukala urged Gugino to be sure that all the consent-order projects are completed.

“What I don’t want to see is another consent order,” said Szukala, who added that documents on the sea wall repairs should be provided to Council members considering long-term financing to pay for the work.

In other matters:

• Gugino called the recent snowstorm probably the worst in the last century and commended “everyone who was involved,” including county and state plow drivers.

• Gugino was asked to consider a solution to the illegal dumping of tires at the city’s recycling center on Lucas Avenue. The city has to pay $3 for each tire that is left at the center. The director said he will submit a proposal for a security system.