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Village of Alden residents want Erie County water, but paying for it is an issue

Residents of the Village of Alden support shifting their water service from village-owned wells to the Erie County Water Authority, even though it would cost more.

The results of a survey included in the November water bills were announced at Thursday's Village Board meeting. The tally was 319 for county water, 271 for keeping the village wells in service.

The village currently charges $6 per 1,000 gallons for the treated well water. The survey told residents that county water, drawn from Lake Erie, would cost $8.50 per 1,000 gallons.

Mayor Michael G. Manicki said since the survey was mailed, the Water Authority has raised its rates, so the cost now would be $8.60 per 1,000 gallons.

Manicki said Friday that the village now will have to decide how – or if – it can pay for the necessary connections to county water mains.

Trustee Robert D. Overhoff Sr., who pushed for the survey, said the results must be implemented.

"If you ask the residents something and the residents tell you something, this is the United States," Overhoff said.

Last year, a survey sent only to water bill payers showed support for village water, but it included options such as using the county water only as a supplement to be mixed with the wells' output.

Water rates are rising in Erie County. How much is your bill going up?

Overhoff, a supporter of county water, insisted on a second survey with an up-or-down vote on county water vs. village water. Manicki said the new survey also was sent to renters, producing a much larger response.

Overhoff said water quality reports show the wells contain various minerals and are susceptible to sewage discharges from nearby industries or farms, and he sought to include background information on water quality issues in the recent mailing.

When his Village Board colleagues refused, Overhoff spent his own money to mail his views to residents.

The trustee's mailing "might have had something to do with" the outcome, Manicki said, noting that some of the survey forms had comments written on them quoting Overhoff's talking points.

Alden has twice failed to receive state grant funding for a single connection to the county system to use as a backup source of supply in case the wells run dry, as some of them did during a drought in the summer of 2016.

One connection would have cost $80,000, but for permanent service, Manicki said, the county would require two connections with pumps, pushing the total infrastructure expense to $180,000.

The mayor said Alden definitely will reapply for the state grant.

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