Dunkirk Seeks Full Water Supply To Fredonia
Fredonia’s water system would get entirely supplied by Dunkirk and its associated North County Water District, under a proposal outlined by city officials Thursday.
Mayor Wilfred Rosas, Department of Public Works Director Randy Woodbury, and city Attorney Michael Bobseine discussed the plan in a City Hall interview. They also sought to overturn what they said was misinformation about Dunkirk’s water system, which was put out at Fredonia’s last Board of Trustees meeting.
In the plan, Dunkirk would supply 1.3 million gallons of water per day to Fredonia. It would come through three connections: through the Vineyard Drive pump station the communities share, and two Route 20 linkups on either end of the village. The Route 20 infrastructure belongs to the North County Water District, but Dunkirk is the sole supplier of that.
The hookup on the eastern end of the village is not quite complete yet, but is anticipated to be ready in April, Woodbury said.
The Vineyard Drive pump station would supply 500,000 gallons of water per day. Each of the Route 20 hookups would send 400,000 gallons daily.
Water delivered through the Vineyard Drive line would be sold at a cost of about $3.84 per 1,000 gallons, and the Route 20 line service would be approximately $4.96 per 1,000 gallons. The village of Fredonia’s current water rate is $4.80 per 1,000 gallons. Trustees turned down two proposals in 2022 to raise the rate.
The plan would cost about $10 million, Rosas said. Some $5 million would be necessary to eventually build a direct Dunkirk-Fredonia trunk line, with a higher capacity than a branch line. Another $5 million would go to a new pump station in the village and repairs to its Webster Road facility.
Once that trunk line is constructed, costs for all water to the village could be as low as $3.84 per 1,000 gallons. The mayor thinks the work could get significant grant assistance, as it is an intermunicipal project, which also involves SUNY Fredonia.
Rosas said the plan came after comments from Fredonia Trustee James Lynden in a March 24 OBSERVER article. Among other things, Lynden accused the North County Water District of “essentially trying to poach our customers.”
The mayor said, “After reading the article that was in the paper, there were comments made that were not factual. So that’s what this was about. I asked our team to put together a proper response, so we can clarify the facts to the public. When I say the public, I’m not just talking city residents, I’m talking about northern Chautauqua County residents.”
Rosas added, “They gave the impression … that the city of Dunkirk was unable to provide water to the village or the university. And I’m being told that’s not the case.”
Woodbury said Dunkirk’s water plant can make and sell 10 million gallons a day. Its current customers, including the North County Water District, get 3.5 million gallons a day when demand is at a maximum.
According to Bobseine, Lynden said in the earlier article that “the city of Dunkirk just simply wants to take advantage of other communities. That’s what I read in (the) article. I think the mayor and Randy have just a very different view. We have a plant that can supply water cost efficiently and effectively.”
As the OBSERVER reported first, the water district is looking into a new line that would supply SUNY Fredonia. Lynden said it was “really, really repugnant that they would even consider such a thing.”
However, it has a key place in Rosas’ plan. It’s represented as a 20-inch direct trunk line between Dunkirk and Fredonia, the one that would cost $5 million and get built after the new arrangement begins.
“Speaking as a parent that currently has a child as a student there, it bothers me that I’m sending a son to a university that has boil-water notices,” he said.
“In my opinion, that university impacts the whole community and not just the village of Fredonia. It has a regional impact. As a leader in our community, they should have, I feel, the most reliable source of water. If they were to do that, they would be getting water from the city of Dunkirk.”
Bobseine said, “We’re 4,000 feet from our 2 million-gallon water tank to Ring Road (on the SUNY campus) … you can stand on Ring Road and look across the fairgrounds right at our water tower. It’s stunning that that’s available like that.”
He said Rosas hopes this proposal can be the basis for a study. Woodbury said Fredonia Trustee Jon Espersen has a resolution on Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting agenda to get a new engineering study on village water issues. Espersen confirmed that.
Woodbury said he told Fredonia officials they can’t get all village water needs from the Vineyard Drive branch line. “It would compromise fire protection on the city side, I can’t do that. If we tap a trunk line, you can have all the water you need … if you’re tapping a tree for maple syrup, you get a lot more off the trunk than the branch.”
He said the proposal incorporates Fredonia’s current infrastructure. However, Woodbury envisions certain infrastructure, such as the reservoir, getting decommissioned over time to save money.
The trio of Dunkirk officials sought to make clear that they are not trying to strong-arm Fredonia over water.
“This is not a hard sell. This is a soft sell,” Woodbury said.