VILLAGE OF ALDEN, N.Y. — "We don't want our kids to drink the water," Ron Toczek tells 2 On Your Side.
He started a Facebook group called the "Village of Alden, Coalition for Change." Dozens of other residents joined, sharing their concerns about the municipal water running from their taps.
They shared pictures with 2 On Your Side showing discoloration, buildup and corrosion on their sinks, toilets and fixtures.
"We don't drink the water," Robert Overhoff admits. "Me or my wife don't drink the water. You run the water in the sink it smells...just smells rotten. And your toilets?They get all black. You have to clean them every few days."
Robert Overhoff isn't just a resident. He's a trustee on the Village of Alden Board.
2 On Your Side asked Village of Alden Mayor Michael Manicki about this.
"The water is hard," explains Manicki. "But from a safety standpoint...there's no issues with it. All of our contaminants are below the EPA limits."
But residents say that's not enough. They point to a 2017 water quality report, which references a state health department study from 2003.
"It's 15 years," said Toczek. "Check it again. I mean, the ground ain't getting any better."
He and other residents tell Channel 2 they're also concerned about the section of the report which reads:
Although our drinking water met or exceeded state and federal regulations, some people may be more vulnerable to disease causing microorganisms or pathogens in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice from their health care provider about their drinking water.
Toczek says this is infuriating, since the village recently increased the rate for water they're not even drinking, "That's like $1.50 more for garbage water. And this year, it went up to $6. When I lived in a different place, I was paying $200 per quarter. And now the bill I just got yesterday is $468."
Overhoff, who is new to the village board, says he questioned other village leaders about the increase, "They said, because we have to pay off all the money that we spent on the wells in the last few years. And they spent millions of dollars on connecting the wells together."
Before the most recent rate increase, Mayor Manicki says surveys were mailed out to village water customers a year and a half ago, asking if they would consider other water options, such as switching over to Erie County Water, a combination of Erie County and village water, or staying with village water. He says 2/3 of respondents said they would prefer to stay on village water.
Toczek, who is in favor of switching to Erie County water, insists that he never received one of those survey cards, "I know I would have voted."
Overhoff explains that to move completely over to Erie County water the village would have to spend about $180,000...a cost he feels the village could pay off in a few years. Overhoff says the village would save $55,000 annually, if it no longer had to treat the village water, and residents would feel the trickle down cost savings, "They wouldn't have to replace their hot water tanks every few years. They wouldn't have to have a water softener. They wouldn't have to replace their water faucets...their shower heads. They wouldn't have to do any of this stuff."
There is a public meeting on Thursday, August 23, at Alden Village Hall on Broadway. The "Village of Alden, Coalition for Change" plans to share their concerns about the water with Erie County legislator John Bruso at that meeting.