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Water authority officials pledge improvements

Chris Caya WBFO News

There was a lot of finger pointing in the Erie County Legislature on Wednesday over a recent boil water notice. Erie County Water Authority officials said the notice was not needed. But Emergency Services Commissioner, Dan Neaverth said, the County erred on the side of caution because ECWA officials were unavailable to discuss the outage that was effecting 250,000 customers.

ECWA Chairman Earl Jann told the legislature that he has been working on improving the Authority's internal and external communications since being appointed a year ago.

A new system will soon be implemented that will issue service alerts via email, text message and social media. Updates on leaks will be posted on the front page of the authority's new website. 

Jann also lauded "ECWA Advance," a new initiative that could ease future problems.

"This is a new computer system that is going to help us pinpoint not only where leaks occurred before but also the type of problems we're having with our infrastructure and how we can move forward in making the repairs that are necessary and proper," Jann said.  

The changes are needed. According to Jann, nearly 1,400 leaks occurred in 2015, up from 600 in 2006. Plans are in place to replace 11 miles of water lines.

Credit Chris Caya WBFO News
A section of the 36 inch water main that ruptured in Amherst on July 20th was wheeled in to Legislature Chambers for a hearing on the outage.

"I know that doesn't sound like much compared to the amount of pipe that has to be replaced, but unless somebody comes up with a big pot of money for us that's where we are, " said Jann while pointing out that replacing all of the authority's pipes would cost in excess of $1.4 billion.