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Water authority facing scrutiny over repeated main breaks

Chris Caya WBFO News

The recent rash of water main breaks has elected officials calling for a closer look at the Erie County Water Authority. 

Since nearly a quarter-million people in the Northtowns were under a boil water advisory for several days last week due to a water main break in Amherst, the Erie County Water Authority has responded to nearly a dozen other breaks across the area.

"This is a public health issue and I think people deserve answers," said Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke.

Burke, a Buffalo Democrat, said he heard from many constituents not just about their taps running dry, but over the lengthy delay and confusion in issuing last week's boil water advisory.

"For example, I had one woman who had a baby who, because the advisory, wasn't given to north Cheektowaga gave her baby a bottle, only to find out that the advisory had changed. And she was, naturally, extremely upset," Burke said.     

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
NY Assem. Sean Ryan

State Assemblyman Sean Ryan points out the Erie County Water Authority is a non-governmental agency free of oversight. But Ryan says the authority receives state infrastructure grants and he wants to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.

"It really does raise some red flags that we had the big water main break which prevented quite a few people from accessing the clean drinking water. And then just the most recent breaks," Ryan said.  

Even though it's called the Erie County Water Authority, Burke points out the authority is not controlled by the County Legislature. Regardless, he says a public hearing on the recent water outages is being planned for the first week of August.