The Town of Pomfret held meetings to educate its residents who are future water customers of the North End Water District about the implementation of phase one of the project.
In July, the town entered into a 30-year agreement with the Village of Fredonia to purchase water from the village water system.
Two meetings were held Oct. 25; one for commercial customers and one for residential customers. Engineer Rob Klavoon of Wendel Companies, the lead agency handling the project, spoke to the two crowds. He explained what responsibilities each home or business owner would have to fulfill and by what time. He also answered questions from members of each group.
OBSERVER Photo by Shirley Pulawski
Town of Pomfret Supervisor Donald Steger spoke to residents about requirements for customers to link into the future North End Water District phase one system.
Residential customers must have paperwork submitted to the town by Jan. 11 if they wish to participate in the initial construction. By opting into the system early, residents will avoid paying a $250 connection fee and will be connected at the roadside of their property regardless if the waterline is placed on their side of the road.
Those joining the system must find their own contractors to do the work. The town board decided at a meeting in September it would not approve a list of particular contractors. At that time, Councilman David Penharlow told the board, "As a town, I don't feel like we can endorse one particular company or another. It's not our place to recommend or make an endorsement."
Klavoon told residents they may be able to obtain discounts on installation by working with neighbors in selecting a contractor to install their connections. He said if a plumbing contractor is doing work on several houses in one area around a particular time, they may be willing to reduce costs for all homeowners. "I've seen that happen plenty of times," he said.
Some residents will incur higher expenses, however. Any property located more than 150 feet from the roadside easement will have to pay for the installation of a meter pit, which Klavoon said could cost from around $600-900.
It was also explained residents may choose copper or lower cost polyethylene piping for the water line connection. However, Klavoon emphasized the new service lines must be set up within the residence so well water could not enter the system once the new connection was made. "This is a health department requirement," he explained. Commercial customers must install back flow protectors to keep water from re-entering the town system from inside the business.
Klavoon also explained water customers must make their own decisions about what size line to have installed. He said line diameter would affect water pressure, and homes farther from the road would likely need lines with higher diameter to maintain pressure, which would increase the cost of installation.
He said the water meters provided would fit any size line, and had a sample meter on display. The meter was about the size of a lunch box. Klavoon said the battery inside would last about 10 years. The battery is used to power a transmitter which will send data to a meter reading device.
Commercial residents, Klavoon said, would need engineers to help make determinations about pipe diameter needed. In more complicated systems with fire sprinklers and or large flow volume, wider pipes would be needed. "What you need for a veterinarian's office or for a Wendy's are very different," he told the commercial group. Commercial customers must also select and purchase and maintain water meters appropriate for the volume and use of the business.
When asked what a customer gets for the charges incurred from being placed into the district, Klavoon deferred to Town Supervisor Donald Steger. Protection is the benefit, Steger explained. "You get a guarantee that you'll have water. ... Right now you don't have that." He told the audience there are areas in the town which the village of Fredonia no longer wishes to service because the village cannot recoup expenses from unpaid water bills. On village property, the amount owed can be placed on a property tax bill. The village cannot do the same for property located in the town.
While the district plans are moving forward, the town's educational meeting was held the night the Village of Fredonia announced a surprise regarding its water filtration plant. It was revealed the operator of the plant had been allowing water provided by the City of Dunkirk at a large volume since July. From July through October, the village incurred charges from Dunkirk totaling around $99,000. The village budgeted for a total of $5,000 in water purchases for the entire year. According to Village of Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe, the issue is still under investigation. It is unclear as to the reasons the village reservoir and filtration plant were not able to meet village water consumption.