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June 25, 2021 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in water, news.

Press release from Tim Hens, County Highway Superintendent:

Heading into the weekend, it looks like a few days of 90° weather are forecasted for our area.  It has been abnormally dry and this combo is exactly what causes water usage to spike. The County is continuing to urge all residents connected to the public water supply system to make small changes to conserve water usage.  Please avoid watering lawns, washing vehicles and any unnecessary water usage.  If you need to water a garden, please do so at night.  Small changes at the residential level add up quickly. 

April 20, 2021 - 3:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in pembroke, water, infrastructure, news, notify.

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The Town of Pembroke is wasting no time in accepting a grant and low-interest loan from USDA's Rural Development division because it is such a good deal.

"I’ve been doing this for many years," said Tom Carpenter, an engineer with Clark Patterson Lee. "This is the best funding package I’ve ever seen from Rural Development. We were requesting about a $2.3 million grant and I forget the interest rate when we were requesting this but it might have been 2 or just over 2 percent. They came back with a grant of $3.7 million and an interest rate of 1.25, that is the best I’ve ever seen."

The bigger grant and lower interest rate will save property owners in the proposed Water District #4 (see map above) about $90 a year from the original estimate.

At the town board's meeting last week, the board voted to accept the package from USDA and contract with Clark Patterson Lee for services associated with getting the water service designed and built.

Typically, there would be a public information meeting about the proposed district but due to COVID-19-restrictions, but Carpenter anticipates newsletters going to residents and business owners in the district along with survey cards to gauge interest in forming the district.

Both Carpenter and Supervisor Thomas Schneider Jr. said they believe there is widespread support for the formation of the district in the community.  

Carpenter said at a previous public meeting where he discussed the district, about 120 people turned out (before the pandemic) and only four or five people there opposed the district.

"You usually get people who are very, very for a district or very, very against it," Carpenter said.

There will be a public hearing on formation of the district at a future date.

Schneider said given the positive feedback he's received from residents, he believes the board will be able to approve the formation of the district with a permissive referendum, which would mean the district would move forward unless affected residents or property owners held a successful petition drive placing the proposal on a public ballot. In that case, voters would need to approve formation of the district.

Schneider said the annual cost of the district for a single, occupied dwelling would be $962 per year. The cost of debt for a residential property that is not developed would be $466 per year. A vacant lot would pay about half that amount. Agricultural properties are exempt from paying for debt service on a water district.

The total cost of the project would be $9,050,000, with $3,744,000 covered by a USDA grant, and the rest by a low-interest loan of $5,306,000.

"I can easily stand up at a public meeting and say there will never be a better funding package available for this project," Carpenter said.

The project would involve installing 109,000 linear feet of 6-, 8-, and 12-inch diameter water mains and providing for 302 water services.

Carpenter said the best-case scenario is the entire project is completed by the end of 2022.

July 7, 2020 - 5:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in water, town of batavia, news.

Public Notice

The Town of Batavia will be experiencing low-water pressures in the western and northwestern area of the Town.

Due to high water demands, the County is obtaining water from ECWA/MCWA Pembroke connection. This connection lowers pressures in the Town of Batavia in those areas.

This will continue until further notice. Customers can call (585) 356-4900 if you have further questions.

May 1, 2020 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in water, infrastructure, news, elba.

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Construction is under way of a new 750,000-gallon water tank in Elba that will serve both the village and the town.

Town Supervisor Donna Hynes said planning for the project began in 2015. In 2016, the Town of Elba received a grant and low-interest loan from USDA Rural Development to fund the project in a single phase. The grant is for $3,854,000 and the loan was for $13,658,000.

Hynes said it then took a year to complete SEQRA and all the necessary permits. Project construction began in mid-2018.

The project also includes approximately 248,000 linear feet of 8-inch and 12-inch water mains serving approximately 500 water users.

Construction should be completed this summer, then painted, and in service by early fall.

Photos: Submitted by a reader last week.

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May 13, 2019 - 3:51pm
posted by Billie Owens in Town of Le Roy, water, infrastructure, USDA, news.

Information from the USDA:

The Town of Le Roy is the recipient of an $89,000 loan and a $34,000 grant from the USDA's Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to build Water District #11.

According to today's announcement by the USDA, in Washington, D.C., this project will extend public water service to eight residential users in the town who currently do not have safe potable water. The announcement did not specify where Water District #11 to benefit eight households is located.

The investment will eliminate health concerns, lower costs and provide better water quality and quantity as well as fire protection.

Le Roy's project is one of 40 approved in 20 states intended to improve rural water infrastructure. The investments will benefit 111,000 rural Americans, according to USDA.

“These investments will have a far-reaching, positive impact on rural residents, businesses and communities,” said Joel Baxley, acting assistant secretary for Rural Development. “Improving water and wastewater infrastructure enhances quality of life, helps support economic development and ensures that rural areas have safe and abundant water supplies.”

USDA is investing $82 million through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. Rural communities, water districts and other eligible entities can use the funds for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems. The projects must be in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

December 17, 2018 - 10:40am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Alabama, news, infrastructure, water.

Press release:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $4,639,000 in federal funding for six water infrastructure improvement projects across the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region. The funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants Program.

Specifically, Schumer and Gillibrand explained, the Town of Alabama in Genesee County will receive: $1,653,000 to create Water District #2 and the Town of Bethany in Genesee County will receive $722,000 to create Water District #4.

The Town of Clarendon in Orleans County will receive $790,000 to create Water District #13 and an additional $790,000 to improve the water improvement benefit area #12, and the Town of Torrey in Yates County will receive $684,000 to create Water District 1, the first municipal water system to serve this area.

“These federal investments in job-creating and economy-boosting water infrastructure projects are great news for the Rochester-Finger Lakes region,” Schumer said. “This federal funding will allow five towns across the region to construct and make critical improvements to municipal water systems needed to provide clean, safe drinking water to their communities.

"I am proud to announce these federal investments and will continue fighting to ensure rural communities across Upstate New York have the resources they need to build, protect and maintain their water infrastructure.”

“All New Yorkers should have access to a reliable source of clean water, and with these grants, communities throughout the Rochester-Finger Lakes region will be able to expand and improve their water systems,” Gillibrand said.

“These investments will help provide safe and clean water for residents in the towns of Alabama, Bethany, Clarendon and Torrey, and I will always fight in the Senate for the resources to protect the health and quality of life for residents.”

August 23, 2018 - 12:38pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in corfu, water, news, notify.

It appears the Village of Corfu and Genesee County could soon be embroiled in a legal battle.

Relations between the two governmental bodies began heating up when the village received notice the county wanted to double the rates for water use.

Corfu currently has 22 years left on a 40-year contract it signed with the county, in which Corfu is paying 60 cents per 1,000 gallons of water.

The county says it needs the extra money because it miscalculated how much it would cost to provide water to the entire county, specifically the East Bethany area.

At a special meeting Tuesday night, attended by the village board and legislator Gordon Dibble, Corfu attorney David Saleh read a letter from county attorney Kevin Earl, in which Saleh said the word “negotiate” was glaringly admitted. Earl wrote that the deadline of Aug. 27 is fast approaching for design, bid specs, bond counsel and financing for debt commitments and cannot be delayed any longer by lack of a signed Corfu document.

He said 13 of the municipalities in the county have already signed the agreement.

If Corfu does not agree to the increase, the county has threatened to reduce the village’s sales tax allocation by the amount the increase would bring in.

For instance, in 2017, the actual voluntary sales tax allocation was $180,410 and the 2017 total Village of Corfu water consumption was 12,812,000 gallons.

The difference in the surcharge rate between $0.60/1,000 gallons and $1.20/1,000 gallons is $7,687.20, meaning Corfu’s sales tax allocation would be reduced by that amount – to $172,723.27.

This is money which would have to be made up by increasing taxes, said Mayor Joe Johnson.

Johnson is concerned over wording he found in the county’s contract, which he interprets as allowing the county to triple the rate.

“There’s no cap,” said village Trustee Tom Sargent. “It’s $1.20 today and in two years, what’s to stop them from increasing it again?”

One resident who attended Tuesday night’s meeting was Matt Steinberg, who called himself “one angry Corfu taxpayer.”

“If the county is going to put us over a barrel like this, they are going to earn it,” he said. “We have zero interest in funding someone’s water system way out yonder, and I for one am in favor of the village spending the money it needs for litigation.”

Steinberg said he would encourage every resident in Corfu to stop shopping or doing business in Genesee County if the county withholds money from their sales tax allocation.

Trustee Al Graham displayed a map of the county showing proposed improvements in red. He said there is no red in Corfu.

“We have paid for our system,” he said.

“When the county says it wants to renegotiate things in the contract that isn’t beneficial to them, that’s not fair to us,” Saleh said.

Corfu previously had its own water system, and when they signed the agreement with the county in 2002, the village was pumping 75,000 gallons of water per day. Now that the county is using Corfu’s system, they are putting 185,000 gallons through the village system a day.

Currently, neither Genesee County or the Monroe County Water Authority are paying anything for using Corfu’s lines. Graham said when the agreement was signed 18 years ago, the county was supposed to shut Corfu’s water plant down, but they are still using it.

Johnson said what the county is doing is extortion.

“They are taking a contract we signed which is good for our residents and forcing one on us which is bad,” Johnson said.

Graham alluded to the letter from the county which he says gives Corfu two options – sign the new contract or have your sales tax taken away.

“There is a third option,” Graham said. “Keep the signed contract we have. We do not want to fight with the county, but I don’t see how they think they can do this. We are elected to serve the people, and at our second public hearing, 100 percent of the residents there said, ‘Don’t sign.’ We’d be derelict if we didn’t listen to them.”

Graham said Corfu is being bullied by the county, and it is very frustrating.

“We are trying to be reasonable, but they are ignoring our requests to negotiate,” he said.

Corfu will schedule one more public hearing before proceeding with its lawsuit.

CORRECTION: A statement by Mayor Joe Johnson was misreported. In his actual statement, encouraged Corfu residents to stop shopping in Genesee County, not Corfu, if the County withholds sales tax residents. The correction was made in the story. Our apologies to Mayor Johnson.

July 16, 2018 - 5:32pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in corfu, news, water, infrastructure.

Genesee County Manager Jay Gsell and Legislator Gordon Dibble have responded to the public hearing held July 9 by the Village of Corfu to address the county’s proposal to double the charge for municipal water.

Corfu officials had hoped someone from the county would attend the hearing to address residents’ concerns about the proposed increase.

However, no county representative was present at the meeting because they were not notified until the day before, Gsell said in an e-mail to The Batavian.

Apparently, Corfu Trustee Al Graham contacted Dibble about 1 p.m. Sunday to inquire if he had received any notice of Monday’s hearing. Dibble replied that he had not.

“It was too late at that point because we want to get all the people there who have the right answers,” Dibble said in a phone call today.

Gsell said they last met with the Village of Corfu officials in June and agreed to come to another village meeting with appropriate notice.

Currently, the county and village of Corfu are trying to agree on a date when all parties can attend.

Gsell has also shared a letter sent to Genesee County’s attorney by Corfu attorneys David Saleh and John Whiting with the Whiting Law Firm after the June meeting. The letter, dated July 5, which was also forwarded to MCWA, says claims were made by Corfu that the county and MCWA were ignoring the village in regard to municipal water, although Corfu has been a retail customer of the MCWA since 2001.

The MCWA told Corfu Mayor Joe Johnson the letter had been forwarded to them and it contained statements that the Village of Corfu had concerns with the services provided by MCWA’s operation and maintenance of the water system.

Several statements made by Corfu in the letter indicate the existing water system that provides water to thousands of county residents, including the residents of the village, is facing many challenges, including a crisis in maintenance of the existing water lines and other facilities.

The village wrote that the water lines running through the village are nearly 100 years old and needed attention even when these agreements were signed nearly 22 years ago.

“It was expected that efforts would be made to replace existing lines that have been subject to compromising breaks on a regular basis. In that near 20-year period, the existing lines haven’t been properly addressed and the problem is only worse,” the letter said.

Finally, the village wrote, “The Water Authority is struggling with maintenance, and the county needs to get involved to help find a solution.”

The MCWA’s Executive Director Nicholas Noce responded that this secondhand notice was the first they had heard about the Village of Corfu’s concerns.

Noce said the Village of Corfu water system was functional at the time the Water Authority and the village entered into an agreement.

He also said MCWA disagrees with the statements about struggling with maintenance and not properly addressing the system.

“This should be recognized by the nearly $2 million invested in the portion of the county’s water system in the Village of Corfu,” Noce said.

He said while there have been water main breaks in the village, those mains do not rank high enough for replacement at this time.

“Typically, age is not a criteria for water main replacement,” Noce said. “Water mains can break for several reasons, such as shifting of the ground during freeze-thaw cycles, pressure changes, casting flaws with material, or from corrosion.”

Noce said the Water Authority has a long-standing main rehabilitation program that has proven to be very effective. When compared to other water utilities across the nation through the benchmarking studies prepared by the American Water Works Association, the MCWA ranks in the national top quartile for the least number of water main breaks per 100 miles of water main.

Noce also said his organization would gladly come out to Corfu or have further discussions with the village to answer any questions about their programs. He said they have no record of receiving any direct contacts from Corfu with the above concerns.

He also reiterated the fact that since the Water Authority and the Village of Corfu entered into the retail lease agreement, the Water Authority has invested $1.95 million into the portion of the Water Authority’s system which is within the village. That investment, Noce said, paid to replace or clean and cement mortar line on approximately 48 percent of the water mains in the village; replace 70 percent of the hydrants; it rehabilitated the water storage tank; and replaced the roof on the water treatment plant (to name a few).

“If the village stayed in the water business, the village water system would have had to fund the $1.95 million of improvement and spread that cost over just 285 water customers in the village,” Noce said.

February 2, 2018 - 1:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in infrastructure, water, news, alexander.

At $197 per user per year, the price Village of Alexander residents would be asked to pay for a new water system seemed quite a bargain to at least one person who attended an information session at the Alexander Fire Hall on Thursday night.

"When I compare this to my cable bill, and water is an essential of life and cable isn't, this is cheaper than my cable bill," said Dawn Townsend at the end of the hour-long meeting.

Consultants Steve Mountain and Jeff Smith laid out for the residents the engineering and financing of the project and then answered questions.

The goal of the project is to replace an aging and break-prone water system that is also susceptible to spreading contaminated water, with all new water lines from the water source in Attica to and around the Village.

In all, 30,000 feet of water main would be replaced with new eight-inch and 12-inch PVC pipe. The Village would also receive new fire hydrants, a new pump station, and new water meters at each residence.

As a result, asbestos would be eliminated from the system and the potential for lead contamination would be eliminated. Water quality would likely improve and residents -- and fire hydrants -- would receive increased water pressure.

The total cost of the project is an estimated at $3.97 million. While that's an estimate contingent on final plans being drawn up, Mountain said he feels comfortable with the estimate based on what he's observed with the Village of Elba recently undertaking a similar project.

Village officials have identified a water infrastructure grant that would cover $2,382,000 -- or 60 percent -- of the cost.

The Village would borrow $1,588,000 through a program that would reduce the interest rate by a third, making it approximately 2.26 percent over the 30-year life of the loan.

The annual debt service per water customer then would be $197 each.

Without the grant and without the low-interest loan, the cost would have been $568 per user per year.

While the Health Department has put the Village on notice about low levels of contamination, particularly for haloacetic acids (HAA), a byproduct of the water cleaning process, concentrations are low enough that there is no health threat.

The new pipes wouldn't trap HAA the way metal pipes do currently, thereby reducing the amount of the chemical in the water system.

The other benefit for residents is that the new system and new hydrants should help improve the insurance service rating, which should mean lower insurance premiums for homeowners.

"We're going to make sure everything we do increases this rating as high as we can," Mountain said.

Smith said Village officials will continue to pursue grants that may come available to help reduce the per-user cost further.

There was a water main break in the Village awhile back that cost $200,000 to repair. In that case, an emergency grant helped cover the repair cost, but Smith said Village residents can't always count on those kinds of funds being available to cover future breaks.

The new system should have a practical useful life of 80 to 100 years.

May 31, 2017 - 1:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, sales tax, water, news.

City and county officials are largely in agreement on how sales tax should be distributed among the various local governments that have been part of a sharing agreement for nearly two decades, City Manager Jason Molino said last night.

The current agreement is about to expire and there are still details to be worked out, however, plus time is needed to draft new legal agreements before elected officials can approve a new plan, so the City Council is being asked to approve a temporary extension to the current agreement.

The County Legislature will also need to approve a temporary extension.

There is a working group of top managers with city and county working on the details, not only of the sales tax sharing agreement but also agreements dealing with water distribution and use of the city's wastewater treatment facility. The deals have previously been interconnected because of the mutual interest of all parties cooperating on these initiatives, Molino said.

"It is in everybody’s self-interest to have an agreed upon agreement in place for sales tax distribution," Molino said. "No one benefits from these agreements going away. There is a form and fashion they have to take with new terms and conditions, but it’s in everyone’s best interest to work out a distribution that is equal and fair to everyone."

Currently, there is an 8 percent sales tax in Genesee County. Of that, 4 percent is mandated by the state and so the money goes to the state. The county keeps 2 percent; of the remaining 2 percent, the city gets about 1/3 of it and the other 2/3 is divided among the county's town and village governments.

The city's share comes to about $6 million annually.

Work on a new agreement started in the fall. The temporary extension, once approved by both City and County, will keep it in place through December 2018.

August 4, 2016 - 1:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, drought, water, environment.

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There isn't much water flowing in the Tonawanda Creek, but the blue heron are still there hunting for meals.

Genesee County, like the rest of Western New York, is officially in a drought warning, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

That means there are no official restrictions on water use, but residents and businesses are asked to voluntarily conserve.

Tim Hens, whose responsibilities include, as county highway superintendent, watching over the county's water supply, said the county and city discussed issuing a water advisory, but decided that doesn't appear to be necessary and probably won't be necessary through the summer, even if no significant rain arrives before winter.

"We haven't had more than an inch of rain in a single day since October of last year," Hens said. "That's a long time for Western New York."

He said this is the dryest summer with the most consecutive sunny days he can remember in 45 years as a county resident.

"Unfortunately, we're probably already past the point of no return for farmers," he said.

Hens said current reserves and the available water from the Monroe County Water Authority gives the county, and by extension, the city, enough water to meet current needs and he doesn't anticipate a spike in demand.

"Most people seem to have given up on their lawns," he said.

The low water level at DeWitt Recreation Area has created a wide land bridge to the lake's island. The land bridge has been exposed all summer and the first time it's appeared in several years. The current level is just 3 inches above the record low, a record set in 2001.

The long-range forecast calls for a pretty snowy winter.

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June 30, 2015 - 11:53am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bataiva, water, infrastructure.

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Driving along Bank Street Road, you might notice "Blasting Zone Ahead" signs.  

Workers are removing bedrock to create a channel for the Town of Batavia's new water main being installed along Bank Street Road and Batavia Elba Townline Road.

You can find out more about the project on the Town of Batavia's Web site.

The town is installing 26 miles of water main this summer, according to Tom Lichtenthal, assistant engineer for the town.

Lichtenthal said there is bedrock along the pipeline's path that is from one foot to three or four feet below the surface. The channel for the pipe needs to be six feet deep and about three feet wide.

The blasts, Lichtenthal said, really aren't too severe. An observer wouldn't see much happening above ground and residents might feel a slight vibration.

Blasting is expected to take place along the two roadways for at least a month, perhaps longer.

March 21, 2014 - 10:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Oakfield, health, water.

Press release:

Since the initiation of the Boil Water Advisory (BWA) one week ago 31 private drinking water wells have been tested, with 15 confirmed to have bacteriological contamination of coliform bacteria and E. coli. Residents who have had their water tested and confirmed positive have been notified at this time.

These organisms can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants and people with compromised immune systems. Residents in this area who are experiencing these symptoms should contact their medical provider.

The Genesee County Health Department continues to assist the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) with their investigation to determine the exact origin and extent of the contamination.

Residents near Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road east of Rt 63 and Lewiston Road south of Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road are urged to continue following the instructions below until their water can be confirmed safe to drink.

Instructions: Boil (rolling boil for one minute) tap water or use bottled water for drinking and cooking. If well water quality changes as noticed by color and/or smell, immediately stop using it for all household uses other than flushing toilets.

For additional information about a Boil Water Advisory (BWA) and how to stay safe during one, visit: http://www.readygenesee.com/BoilWaterAdvisory.pdf.

For additional information on coliform bacteria please visit:

http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/docs/coliform_bacteria.pdf

March 19, 2014 - 11:57am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Oakfield, environment, water.

Press release:

Several of the initial water samples collected this week from private drinking water wells located near Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road -- east of Route 63, and Lewiston Road south of Batavia-Oakfield Townline Road -- have confirmed bacteriological contamination of coliform bacteria and E. coli. Residents who had their water tested and confirmed positive have been notified at this time. These organisms can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants and people with compromised immune systems. Residents in this area who are experiencing these symptoms should contact their medical provider.

Although the contamination has been confirmed, the exact origin and extent cannot be determined without further analysis, the Genesee County Health Department will assist the Department of Environmental Conservation in this process in the near future.

Impacted residents are urged to continue to follow the instructions below until their water can be confirmed safe to drink. With the extent of the contamination unknown at this time, re-occurrence of contamination is possible.

If you are living in the identified area and would like your well water tested, please contact the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5525. There is no charge for this testing.

July 25, 2013 - 6:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, water, infrastructure.

Construction is well under way for the new $1.65-million water tower in Oakfield and if all goes to plan, it could be in use by this fall.

Every day there are from five to seven welders on the job constructing the 165-foot, 10-inch tower. The sections are pre-fab and then welded together on site. It took one day to raise the center column, two weeks to build the bottom half of the tank top.

The tower now acts as it's own crane to haul workers and material to the top.

Workers will begin installing the next sections of the top of the tower on Monday.

Clark Patterson Lee out of Rochester handled the design and engineering. Caldwell Industrial out of Louisville, Ky., is the construction contractor.

The pedisphere-design tank will hold 500,000 gallons of water once completed.

May 14, 2013 - 4:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, water, Water Quality.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Annual Water Quality Report for 2012 has been completed and may be viewed online at: http://www.batavianewyork.com/documents/2012WaterReport.pdf. This report contains information as to how your drinking water is produced, testing results, and other general information relating to the public water supply. Paper copies of this report are also available at City Hall.

 

February 12, 2013 - 3:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in water, Bethany.

So far, only about 39 property owners within a proposed area for public water have contacted Town of Bethany officials to voice their opinion on the subject.

Carl Hyde, proponent of public water for that section of the Town of Bethany, said more people need to come forward if public water is to move forward.

Of the 225 property owners affected, 30 have said yes and nine no, but the sheer number of overall respondents is not enough for the project to proceed.

Hyde is asking that residents call 343-1399 and provide town officials with a yes or no opinion along with an address.

"The town board has done all they can to this point and so have I," Hyde said. "It's up to the people to voice an opinion."

Previously: Bethany residents facing big decision over public water

February 1, 2013 - 11:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in water, Bethany.

Town board members in Bethany need to hear from town residents on an important topic: Do you want public water?

Eric Wies, senior associate for Clark Patterson Lee, repeated that message several times last night at a public meeting in Bethany attended by nearly 100 residents.

The town board won't go forward with a public water project unless enough residents express interest because there's no point in going forward if property owners won't eventually sign a petition in support of creating a water district.

To that end, Wies (a water project consultant) said there are a number of factors property owners must consider, beginning with the fact their annual expected cost for public water could be as much as $1,600.

The final cost won't be determined until after the town board takes the next step toward setting up one or more water districts.

Wies explained in detail how water districts are formed and funded.

There is grant money available either from the state or federal government, but according to census data, the median household income in Bethany is $58,200.

That's much too high to even discuss the possibility of a state grant and a tad too high for a USDA Rural Development grant.

If there's sufficient interest from residents to take a closer look at public water, the town board will commission a third-party household income survey.

The responses will be kept confidential and the aggregate data shared with the town board.

If it shows that the actual median household income is less than $58,000, then the town would have a shot at a USDA grant.

Such a grant could lower the annual cost for residential water to $1,000 a year on average.

Bringing public water to Bethany involves creating one or more water districts.

Each water district would borrow the money necessary to connect to a water main from either the Monroe County Water Authority or the Town of Batavia's water supply and install water lines down each roadway in the district.

Part of the annual cost for each property owner is repayment of the loan, which will take 38 years to pay off.

"We're not spending our money. We're spending your money," said Supervisor Louis J. Gayton. "We don't want to spend your money if this is something you don't want."

The loan payoff follows the property, not the current property owner.

Some of the water cost for property owners, of course, is for the water itself. There will also be a charge, mandated by the county for new water districts, to help pay for the big water line that brings water from Monroe County to Genesee County. 

Bethany water customers will pay the surcharge -- 60 cents per 1,000 gallons of water -- whether the new district(s) goes with Monroe County water or Town of Batavia water.

Wies encouraged property owners to really examine the cost of their well water.  Well water costs include pumps (and pump replacements), electricity, replacing plumbing and fixtures regularly if the water is too hard, filtration, chlorination and water safety tests.

Some residents may find they're already spending as much as $1,600 a year on water, Wies said. They just don't realize it.

"This is a decision each of you will have to make yourselves," Wies said.

Public water will also mean fire hydrants in the town and more effective firefighting.

If residents decide to push forward with a water project, then Hyde and other residents (board members can't do it) will bring a petition around to each resident. The petition will have the property owner's name on it, the parcel number and the exact anticipated cost of water for the property owner.

If the owner signs the petition, it's like a yes vote. No signature, it's a no.

Property owners holding at least 50 percent of the assessed value of all property in the district must sign the petition, but as a practical matter, property owners with more than 70 or 80 percent of assessed value must support the formation of a water district.

At 50 percent, it's much easier for one owner who objects to block formation of the district.

If there's enough support for the district, then the town must appeal to the Comptroller's Office to approve the formation of the district. The Comptroller can veto the formation of the district where the annual cost of water exceeds $685.

The issue of public water reached this point largely because of the work of Carl Hyde, the champion for public water in Bethany.

At the end of the meeting, Hyde said he's done all he can do to get the issue to this point.

"Now it's up to you," he said. "This is your decision."

Top photo: Eric Wies. First inset, town attorney David DiMatteo. Third inset, Carl Hyde.

August 29, 2011 - 9:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield, water, infrastructure.

Village of Oakfield residents should brace for a couple of increases in their quarterly water bills.

The first increase will be 65 cents per thousand gallons of water. That 19.4-percent increase will take the rate from $3.35 to $4.

The increase, according to Mayor Rick Pastecki, is designed to eliminate a deficit in water spending for the village.

"Basically, we found out that our rates were so low that state officials were concerned we wouldn't be able to pay back our debt," Pastecki said. "Basically, we found through the process that our rates were considered extremely reasonable, which precluded any kind of grant money."

The village needs a low-interest loan -- which has been awarded, and a grant, also awarded -- for a new water tower and transmission line.

The current water tower is well beyond its useful life and the village has been able to secure a 2.5-percent loan and a $600,000 grant, but those funds will only cover a portion of the cost of the $3.4 million project.

And that cost -- though expected to be high -- hasn't been determined yet.

To pay for the tower, another water-rate increase will be necessary, according to Pastecki, but more calculations need to be done before he can estimate the potential second rate increase.

Information for this report courtesy of Geoff Redick of WBTA.

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