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Alden survey: Do you want well water or county water?

Village of Alden water customers will receive an extra piece of paper in their water and sewer bills this month: a survey on whether they would prefer to keep using the village's well water or start buying water from the Erie County Water Authority.

Trustee Robert D. Overhoff Sr., who favors county water, said the survey form does not give residents enough information.

So he intends to provide more information by mailing his arguments in favor of county water to all 1,205 customers – at his expense.

The survey tells residents that buying county water "will result in a rate increase of about $2.50 per thousand gallons."

The current charge for water drawn from the village's four wells is $6 per 1,000 gallons. The price for county water, which comes from Lake Erie, would be $8.50 per thousand gallons.

Overhoff contends the quality of county water is better than village water. The village board defeated his effort to include information about water quality in the survey.

"The more information you put in, the more people get confused," said Mayor Michael G. Manicki.

Overhoff pointed to the village's annual water quality report, which said the well water is "susceptible to microbial contamination" because three wells are near industrial or commercial facilities discharging wastewater, and a fourth is near farm pastures.

The report says the water is treated to bring it up to state drinking water standards. The county and state health departments confirmed they test Alden water regularly and find it safe to drink.

"It's drinkable, I guess, with all the stuff they put in it," Overhoff said.

But he noted that the report says people undergoing chemotherapy or who have immune system disorders, including the elderly and infants, may be vulnerable to "disease-causing microorganisms or pathogens in drinking water."

"You can find that information in any water report," Manicki responded. "We have some people, and I can't really judge how many people, who don't like our village water because it's hard."

There are elevated levels of iron and manganese in some of the well water, although not high enough to make it unsafe, according to the county and state health departments.

Switching to county water would save the village $54,000 a year on water treatment chemicals and power to operate the wells, Overhoff said.

Manicki said the village has discarded a suggestion that it drill a new well. Manicki and Overhoff agreed that would have cost $500,000, with no guarantee the drill would strike usable water.

Manicki said village officials will not consider the results binding.

"It's a survey, not a vote," he said.

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