City Must Resolve Water Break Issues

With one quarter of 2018 still to go, Jamestown has seen more water main breaks than it did for all of 2017. To make matters worse, the breaks have been more severe this year compared to 2017.

There was quite a bit of outcry when Mayor Sam Teresi unveiled a plan for the Jamestown Local Development Corp. to buy the Board of Public Utilities’ wastewater treatment plant in Poland in an effort to create a capital infrastructure and equipment program fund. The city is still working through the deal, which has changed since it was proposed last year, with no updates recently on the idea.

Enough information isn’t available yet to know whether or not the wastewater treatment plant sale is prudent policy, but one thing is abundantly clear — the city must find a way to get ahead of its water infrastructure issues. The Board of Public Utilities budgets each year to repair water main breaks and crews do a pretty good job of repairing the breaks quickly and with as little interruption as possible to ratepayers. But, as we saw with the break last year at Third and Main streets, some of the breaks are more than just inconveniences — they can destroy other city infrastructure while negatively impacting thousands of people. It is also important to continue ensuring a safe supply of drinking water for all of the BPU’s water customers so that the drinking water crises that have plagued other cities don’t happen here.

An abundant supply of clean water isn’t free. These water main breaks are a reminder that major work to the city’s water infrastructure is needed — and it isn’t going to be cheap.