OBSERVER Photo by Gregory Bacon
A public hearing for a proposed water district along Route 394 in the town of Chautauqua between Mayville and the Institution drew a large crowd.
A proposed new water district in the town of Chautauqua has residents divided.
During a meeting of the Chautauqua Town Board, officials held a public hearing on creating Water District No. 5, which would run along Route 394 between Chautauqua Institution and the village of Mayville. The final boundaries of the possible water district have not been finalized.
If constructed, the water district is expected to cost $9.3 million and would serve around 300 households.
In a legal notice, it states that a typical one- or two-family home would be charged between $1,144 to $2,868 for the first year in operation. Costs after that would depend on maintenance, debt service, and other charges.
During the public hearing, Supervisor Don Emhart said they have secured a $5 million grant, so the numbers that were first announced are no longer accurate.
He was unable to give a revised cost structure, other than to say that the debt service would be for 30 years.
Emhart also said it would be the responsibility of each home owner to hire a private plumber to connect to the waterlines.
If a household is receiving well water, that residence may refuse the public water, however because there has been an improvement on the property, that household will likely have to pay the debt service. That decision has not been finalized either.
The public hearing went on for more than an hour.
Emhart said 108 people signed a petition to form the water district.
At the meeting, many residents said they desperately need the waterline.
Alan Bozer said he was one of the people who helped circulate the petition. “We tried drilling wells. We got a little bit of water and then we got mud and then we got nothing. We do not have water. We have to draw from the lake for household uses and then we have to buy water and bring it in every time we need it,” he said.
Another individual said they draw from the lake during the summer, but in the winter they can’t stay at that residence, because they have no water at all.
Other residents complained that they recently drilled a new well and aren’t interested. “We spent $15,000 when we had to drill a well,” one woman said.
Another resident said she doesn’t want to drink things like fluoride. “These are treatments that those of us on the west side of 394 are not interested in having in our drinking water because we do not feel that it is safe. We are happy with our wells. They are fine,” Karen Engstrom said.
After the public hearing, the town board passed a resolution declaring the town of Chautauqua the lead agency in doing a State Environmental Quality Review of the project.
Emhart said they are not forming the district yet and invited residents to submit questions and concerns to the town board.
He added that once a district is formed, they will then negotiate with both the village of Mayville and the Chautauqua Utility District, which supplies water to Chautauqua Institution, which would be better to supply water. Mayville gets its water from wells while the CUD gets its water from Chautauqua Lake.
Emhart said lake water and well water cannot be combined, so even if they get water from the CUD, it would not transport water to the village of Mayville, which is looking for an additional water source.
Officials noted that if a district is formed and residents are opposed to it, they are permitted by law to request the formation be subject to a referendum vote. Only residents in the district would be permitted to vote and those residents do not have to have the town of Chautauqua be their permanent address to vote.