FORESTVILLE – The odor and taste of water in the village of Forestville brought out about 50 residents who demanded answers about the condition of the local water supply.
At the regular meeting on Tuesday, residents addressed village board members and Chautauqua County Water Resource Specialist William Boria, who defended the condition of the drinking water. He said that the water is safe for drinking, while admitting that tests were set for Wednesday of this week and again next Tuesday by the New York State Health Department.
Angela Bittinger has been talking to residents about the issues and has used social media to encourage others to complain about the water. “We don’t believe any of you,” she said. She wanted a motion to encourage the village to stop the sale of land where the former water source is located.
The new water supply was put into use in 2014. It includes two large wells and a storage area. According to Boria, the wells are a safer supply than the springs because they are not subject to surface contamination like the spring water is. The 110 acres that include the springs was approved for a sale that should close within a few days, according to Village Attorney Michael Sullivan. The Pennsylvania buyer of the land reportedly intends to harvest timber.
“Do not sell the springs until we prove the water is OK,” said Bittinger. Village Trustee Gary Belote said that the spring water had several issues. He said there were bacterial contaminants in the water supply. Boria said the village also experienced frequent shortages with the springs as a supply and had to be placed on bans to maintain enough water.
“The springs were very unsafe and contained bacteria and E. coli,” said Boria.
Village Mayor Kevin Johnson read from a prepared statement at the meeting. He agreed with residents that there is an odor to the water and said it is due to the presence of iron and manganese. He also stated that the village has attempted to use chlorine to help with the odor.
Boria said that the village’s plan to add a new chemical to the water that would act as an agent to bind the minerals is currently under consideration by the New York State Department of Health. “We received the plan yesterday and we have asked the state to expedite their decision,” said Boria.
He said the village board members knew that the minerals could present an odor and taste issue and the treatment plan was written into the proposal for the entire system.
With all the complaints about the water, one resident who lives on Creek Road, outside of the village limits, would be happy to get public water. Krista Miller said her family has been without a water supply for seven months and she has been working between the village board members and town of Hanover representatives to try to get water supplied to her home.
Mayor Johnson said the village cannot sell her water until the town board members approve her as a member of a district. Miller vowed to return to the town board meetings and pursue the issue.
In another matter, the village budget was formally approved and raises for village employees were removed. .