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Chautauqua County investing millions in water infrastructure upgrades

The small town of Mayville is getting about $4 million to improve their water infrastructure. It is just the latest water upgrade being made in Chautauqua County.

The population of Mayville currently stands around 2,000. The town will be replacing old and failing water mains with the funds.

Chautauqua County Senior Water Resource Specialist Bill Boria said the life of a water main could be 30-70 years. It depends on the material used and how well it was installed.

"We're very fortunate that main mains put in about 100 years ago were made with really high-quality steel and they've lasted this long," said Boria. "Some of them are still in good shape, but a lot of them are starting to fail."

He said the lifespan of a water well is usually 50-70 years.

Fredonia, which just a few weeks ago had a major water main break that led to a boil water order, is currently still in the early planning stages of improvements.

"Recently we've been plagued with numerous water leaks and I really have not made an investment that some of the other villages I've talked about have made in their water system," he said, "so I need to step up, make that investment."

Boria said if they do not safeguard their water system, future generations in Fredonia will have to pay the price.

The city of Dunkirk also is investing $17 million in its water system. It will be the hub of Chautauqua’s north county water district.

Boria said it is a great deal of money overall, but the surrounding areas carry historic and environmental significance.

"It's also near Chautauqua Lake, which is a huge tourist attraction, as is much of the rest of our county," he said. "So not only do people stay there, but we're also able to attract new people to our quality of life."

Chautauqua topography requires about 70 public water supplies that serve community systems. Of those, there are 18 municipal systems, 14 of which have their own water source.

Boria said the county health department has been pushing municipal systems to upgrade. And communities need to make sure they have short- and long- term management plans when it comes to replacements.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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