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North County Water District Councilman Terry Niebel wants the district to do potential business with Fredonia, rather than just the city of Dunkirk. Photo by MJ Stafford

“We don’t have the answers. Everyone has questions.”

North County Water County Board Chairman John Walker summed up the county’s position on the new Fredonia connection with this quote last week. He said it was at the end of a discussion lasting about 15 minutes at the board’s monthly meeting about the plan, which is part of a proposal by Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas to supply all of Fredonia with water.

“This is kind of friendly dialogue,” Dunkirk Public Works Director Randy Woodbury said at the start of the discussion. “If we can help them, we want to be there to help.”

Chautauqua County Councilman and legislator Terry Nebel, R. Sheridan, had several questions about the city’s proposal. For example, he wanted to know how much Dunkirk, the only water resource for the region, gives each day. Woodbury said the Dunkirk water plant sends between 300,000 and 500,000 gallons per day to the region — but produces 3.5 million gallons per day in total.

He also tells Nebel that the city’s contract with the Northern Water District expressly allows Dunkirk to negotiate with Fredonia separately, outside of the Water District.

“When you start doing that, can’t you start doing it with other municipalities?” asked Nebel.

Woodbury said no. “It would make sense for the Water District to go there,” In a place like Westfield, rather than an area that borders Dunkirk. “The only reason we suggested moving directly to Fredonia is because we are next door to Fredonia,” He said.

And Nebel said that any deal with Fredonia should not pass through Dunkirk, but through the water district.

“Some of your ideas are a little different from what you talked about,” Walker told Woodberry. “At the same time, different ideas.”

Nebel said he was concerned that Rosas had suggested using Chautauqua County funding for a study of relations with Fredonia. “My position is, if we’re going to use any kind of county money, it’s going to have to be through the North County Water District,” He said.

“It was just an idea. It wasn’t meant to piss anyone off.” Woodbury said.

Walker took up the idea that the city and the water district exist “to push” For more business with Fredonia. The proposal came out at a March North County Water District meeting to supply SUNY Fredonia with a new line “Simple question, is anything being done about Fredonia?” He said. The university had to use bottled water for a few days during a boiling water order in early March.

Fredonia was Michelle Twichel’s trustee at Thursday’s meeting and said she hasn’t yet had a chance to speak with all of her fellow trustees about the proposal. Walker reiterated Woodbury’s position that the existing connection—an 8-inch line along Main Street in Dunkirk to a pumping station on Vineyard Drive near the municipal boundary—could not supply Fredonia’s normal water needs.

“We have to serve our regular customers first,” Woodbury said. “We can’t compromise fire protection for those who squeeze more water by a twig on Vineyard Drive.”

he added, “I hope the Fredonia reservoir will be perfect for 100,000 years. I hope the valley doesn’t come any closer to the water station than it is…. If they’re sure everything will be fine, I’m fine too.”

Later in the meeting, Dunkirk City Superintendent Juan Pagan stated his support for expanding the North County water district.

“The more people we can welcome into this group, the more it strengthens us all.” He said. “If we can work together, we can progress together. If anyone else wants to join, they are most welcome.”

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