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Moving Ahead On Water Service

Efforts are underway in applying to New York State for funds to complete a feasibility study on extending water service up the west side of Chautauqua Lake. There have been requests over the years from homeowners in the area who have had water well problems, and who would benefit from being hooked-up to a public water system.

Like any other form of public infrastructure, a feasibility study is needed to conclude whether such a water line extension is possible and would make economic sense. This could be a dead-end effort or it could be a public benefit and be economically feasible. We will have to wait and see.

Physically, the project seems possible. There is a large BPU water main which ends near the BOCES School in Ashville, and the Jamestown aquifer (the source of the BPU water supply) has the capacity to supply such an extension.

There has been a question of whether there could be any savings by including a water line extension with the planned sewer system expansion up to Stow. However, state code requires at least a 10 ft. separation between such systems, and so it would not be possible to put two lines in the same ditch. In other words, sewer and water systems will need to be separately built.

Though this is a generalization, my own experience from living in this area is that there tends to be more water well problems as you move away from the lake. Water wells along the lake seem to have better deliverability and fewer quality issues than those located further from the lake. It is sort of the reverse of the sewer problem, where septic systems closer to the lake generally have more problems than those away from the lake where leach fields can be more effective.

It has been heartening to see the cooperation among municipalities in pursuing this prospect of possibly extending a public water system. The Town of North Harmony, Town of Chautauqua and Chautauqua Institution have all expressed an interest in reviewing the results of this feasibility study. Because the project could potentially cross township lines, the County is also involved. This is good because the County has the engineers and other professionals needed should the idea move ahead.

It is too early to know if such a water line extension makes economic sense. However, it is not too early for the public to know that their governmental officials are working proactively to evaluate its potential. This is the way public works become reality–hard work, lots of planning and informed decision making.

“Kudos” to those who are looking at this matter. Let’s hope that the funds are received from the State of New York so that this feasibility study can be undertaken. Good water systems are as important as good sewer systems, and improving and expanding such infrastructure is part of what makes our country strong.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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