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Water Order Frustrations Come To Boiling Point With Students

Several students at the State University of New York at Fredonia have expressed frustration regarding an ongoing boil water order that began Sept. 10 in the village. P-J photo

FREDONIA — Frustrations have been overflowing on the campus of the State University of New York at Fredonia as students, like the rest of the village community, have been dealing with a boil water order that began on Sept. 10.

Three students from the campus commented this week on how inconvenient, annoying, and frustrating it is to be under a boil water advisory for so long. These students include Cameron Forster, a native Fredonian, Caitlyn Mericle, originally from Lockport, and Bailey Goodspeed from Lakeview.

When asked their thoughts on the situation, they all had the same sentiment: it’s ridiculous that the problem is not only still standing, but also recurring.

“I’m currently a senior so I’ve been here in Fredonia for about four years now so this isn’t the first time we’ve had a water crisis,” Goodspeed said. “However, this current crisis is the longest I’ve experienced and it’s already been very difficult and an annoyance.”

The boil water advisory is in effect because the village delayed replacing the filters in the water system for months, apparently due to COVID-19. In addition, an algal bloom at the reservoir led to an increase in turbidity levels that made the water unsafe for consumption.

This has caused students to think about transferring to different campuses because they’ve dealt with this in Fredonia before.

Though these are fleeting thoughts for some, Forster said that if the problem continued on for months, he would definitely consider moving.

“After consideration, I would probably not (move to another campus). I’m more frustrated with the fact that they put off replacing the filters for so long,” Mericle said. ‘I understand an initial delay due to COVID-19, but clean water is important especially in a time like this. Saying the filters weren’t changed due to COVID-19 and scheduling issues feels like an excuse in a way. … Why was this so low on the importance list that our water now needs to be boiled? You’d think making sure the water was clean would be high on the priority list during a pandemic.”

Goodspeed agreed with Mericle, saying that if it weren’t for her being a senior, she would consider the pros and cons to leaving Fredonia. “While there are other concerns I have about Fredonia, the occurrence of the water crisis more than twice since I’ve been here is both disgusting and annoying,” said Goodspeed. “Fredonia lacks in updates and communication when it comes to this crisis which is frustrating for everyone. I haven’t seen another email or had another update since the first week this all began and we were told this would be resolved in a few days, not weeks. Going into week three, I hope we hear something soon, but sadly I wouldn’t be surprised if this lasted a few weeks longer.”

The students agreed that the use of bottled water for everything is such a waste — of money and plastic, but they have no other choice. “Though it is a bit upsetting that we have to resort to it, since not everyone is returning or probably even recycling them,” Mericle said. “I’m also frustrated that since I can’t wash my dishes, my use of plastic utensils has increased. I tend to avoid as much plastic as I can, but now I’m relying on it so I have something clean to eat off of.”

Goodspeed, Mericle, and Forster are all hoping for a solution to the problem, but remain annoyed. “We should be able to stay inside as much as possible and not worry about our water right now. A pandemic is stressful enough without this,” Mericle said. “I appreciate the water the school is providing us and I’m lucky enough to be able to use my meals to get water, so my exposure hasn’t increased from this, but I can’t imagine the amount of stress this is putting on others.”

Last week Darin Schulz who oversees the Faculty Student Association at the State University of New York at Fredonia said operation at the campus sites were facing challenges, but “managing.”

“The boil water mandate has severely limited our menu especially at our coffee locations,” the executive director said. “We can’t do drinks with ice. We can only do what we can do.”

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