ECWA: No interview on Amherst main break

Water Authority Not Answering Questions

AMHERST, NY – For a second day, the Erie County Water Authority declined to make anyone available on camera, to address concerns of some Amherst residents, who experienced service interruptions earlier this week.

Residents in the Ransom Oaks neighborhood experienced service interruptions for three consecutive days earlier this week.

However, beyond the frustration of having their water service interrupted, residents told Two On Your Side their aggravation was compounded by a lack of communication from the Water Authority about what was going on.

“We kept calling and calling and calling…..it would have been nice to get a text or an e-mail or a phone call,” said ransom Oaks resident Frank Marchese.

“Nobody notified anybody in the neighborhood about it, said another resident, Lynn Cutler.

Communicating with customers was something the Water Authority promised to do a better job at, after a major –and memorable—water main break in Amherst this past summer, which affected some 75,000 customers and resulted in a boil water advisory lasting several days.

And while the Water Authority had mentioned other problems it was working on in recent days on its website and social media accounts, it never made mention of the one in Ransom Oaks.

After getting no response on Wednesday night from the Water Authority, Channel 2 went to the agency’s regular board meeting on Thursday hoping to get answers.

An employee of the Public Relations firm which the Water Authority retains at a cost of $5,000 per month, told us they could arrange for someone to speak with us on camera later on Thursday afternoon.

After a few hours, we contacted them only to be told that no one would be appearing on camera with us to answer questions.

At 4:02 pm on Thursday, the same public relations representative sent us the following information:

This week, The Erie County Water Authority's (ECWA) line maintenance crew was called to respond to three separate leaks in Ransom Oaks. On the morning of Nov. 14, we repaired one section of pipe allowing service was restored by noon. Crews responded to another leak on the same distribution pipe early on Nov. 15, which was subsequently repaired that afternoon. On Nov. 16, crews became aware of another leak on the same pipe. At this time, the determination was made to replace 36 feet of pipe rather than simply attending to the site of the leak itself. Due to the time required, a pipe replacement of this size is unusual for ECWA since our goal is always to find and repair leaks as quickly as possible to avoid extended disruptions of service. An estimated 24 houses total were affected by this series of leaks.

1.) That portion of Amherst is a Leased Managed area.  The Town of Amherst Water District 15C (a Municipal Corporation under NYS Town Law) is the owner of the water supply system.  By contract with ECWA, they have requested that we operate the system on their behalf.  The contract is structured such that ECWA will respond on behalf of the District to make repairs as needed but that major capital improvements and replacements are the responsibility of the Water District. 

2.) The entire neighborhood suffers from poor soils that leads to degradation of the pipe. This pipe resides within this area, causing an increased rate of corrosion. For this reason, we have no way of providing a guarantee that in the future there will not be another line break in this area. However, after reaching out to the Town of Amherst, we have been informed that they have scheduled a replacement of a larger portion of the water main in 2017.

3.) These were minor leaks, affecting a small number of homes that occurred in the middle of the night. During these off-hours, only one dispatcher is on duty, whose is solely responsible for answering phones and directing out line maintenance crews. For this reason, repairing the leak in question was decided to be the main priority.
 


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