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Water authority begins installation of water mains in Williamsville

The Erie County Water Authority this month will begin overseeing the installation of 6,200 linear feet of water mains at 17 different locations throughout Williamsville, largely aimed at enhancing fire protection in the village.

The $2.2 million village-funded project,is the final step in fully consolidating the village’s water system with the water authority, a project that was announced last June.

“We are actually managing the project,” Robert J. Lichtenthal Jr., deputy director for the water authority, said Thursday.

“The work is being done under our auspices and supervision. However, it is the village that is going to pay for those upgrades,” Lichtenthal added.

As part of its agreement with the water authority, the village already has invested more than $3 million in its water infrastructure in an effort to advance the consolidation. That has included the installation of higher-capacity water mains, replacing old water meters with technologically advanced radio-read meters and completing new interconnections between the village and water authority systems to improve flows for fire service in the village.

Earl L. Jann Jr., a water authority commissioner, called the roughly $6 million in infrastructure improvements “a very smart and important investment for the future of Williamsville and its residents.

“Over the past several years, the Village of Williamsville has performed its due diligence and concluded that the ECWA is the best option to provide the most affordable and efficient water service to its ratepayers,” Jann said.

The village finalized a deal to turn its system over to the authority last year after years of negotiations. At the time, Mayor Brian J. Kulpa said the consolidation would relieve the village of a decades-long strain on its finances.

In addition to improving the village’s financial outlook, Kulpa said joining the county’s water system will have the effect of lowering water rates for village ratepayers and saving them money over the long term in maintenance and personnel costs.

The new rate for village ratepayers was estimated at $4.92 per 1,000 gallons, a 95 cents per 1,000 gallon savings over the 2015 rate of $5.87 per 1,000 gallons. The new rate combines the authority’s current rate of $3.05 per 1,000 gallons with the village debt service surcharge of $1.87 per 1,000 gallons. The village may see a reduction in the surcharge as it pays down the debt over its 20-year term.