Mayville plans water system upgrades | News, Sports, Jobs


Matthew Zarbo with Barton & Loguidice discusses options for Mayville’s water system.

MAYVILLE — After receiving $2 million from the federal government, village officials are trying to decide whether to use that money for short-term repairs to their water system or invest millions more for long-term improvements term.

Matthew Zarbo of Barton & Loguidice was present at the September village council meeting to discuss options for a future water project.

In March, the federal government announced that Mayville would receive a $2 million water grant. A $500,000 match was required.

Grant details were not available until recently. Zarbo said at this week’s meeting that the county or state could come up with the required game. They may also be able to shake up the match, depending on the income levels of the residents.

Zarbo had been working with the village since 2018, when he sought to install a new well to help improve the pressure. Mayville had three working wells at the time, but one was weak and they were looking to drill a new well.

In 2020, as the fourth well had been drilled and was being commissioned, the county health department released a “Do not drink” order due to the discovery of traces of perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA). PFNA was found in all three wells, but not in the new well.

Within two weeks of the “Do Not Drink” order, Mayville brought the fourth well online, but requested restricted water use by the village, as the new well did not have the capacity to service all the village. In May 2021, a filtration system was installed on well #1.

Between well 1 and the newly installed fourth well, the village could now provide adequate water without restrictions.

Zarbo said that although wells 1 and 4 are both functioning, neither can sustain the village on its own, if one fails. He recommended bringing Well 3 back online and sending it to the already constructed filter system. In this way, the village would have three wells, two of which filter the PFNA. Well 2 has been decommissioned.

He also recommended that the village seek a new source of water so that it does not have to filter the water. Filters, although completely safe, are very expensive to replace and increase water costs. If they were successful, the filtered water would only be needed as a backup source.

Zarbo said the village can use the $2 million grant to explore a new water source and make critical improvements needed.

ADDITIONAL REPAIRS

According to Zarbo, the village will eventually need to replace its main water pipe. He’s had a number of breaks over the years and doesn’t handle the pressure well. He estimates it will cost $5.6 million.

To pay for this improvement, Zarbo said the recently approved federal infrastructure bill had plenty of funds. He believes the village could qualify for a grant of $3,920,000 as well as a zero interest loan of $1,680,000. “Things are better now than they ever were” he said.

To repay the $1.68 million loan, Zarbo said it would mean raising water rates by an additional $66 a year on users’ bills for the next 30 years.

Normally, Mayville wouldn’t be eligible for this much funding, but Zarbo noted that because Mayville has a water source contaminated with PFNA and needs an additional well, and because there are additional funds available through infrastructure bill approved, they are eligible.

He suspects that if Mayville uses its $2 million grant to fetch new water and start treating Well 3 but not to replace its water line, when it comes time to replace that line, no additional funding will will be available. “While I can understand the Village of Mayville wanting to spend more on their water system, that doesn’t mean that if you don’t spend that money, that water line won’t need replacing. It will eventually need to be replaced.” he said.

According to Zarbo, future grants could become more difficult and loans could be 4-5% interest.

Yet, he repeated, it is the decision of the village council whether it wants to do a $2 million or $7.6 million water project.

No decision has been taken by the village chiefs.

PROCEEDING

On September 9, Mayville filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against Chautauqua County for PFNA in its water wells. Health officials said from 2014 to 2018 there were fire-fighting foam training drills at the Chautauqua Municipal Building, the former high school. The moss has been associated with higher levels of PFNA and is thought to have leached into groundwater.

Zarbo was asked if the day could come when the wells could be cleaned of the PFNA contaminant. He wasn’t sure. “Before 2016, this contaminant wasn’t even something we talked about,” he said.

Lawsuit funds were not part of Zarbo’s estimate.

The officials were questioned about the lawsuit which was filed in the state Supreme Court. Village attorney Joe Calimeri said they negotiated with county officials to have the county pay for the $500,000 game, along with other funding options. They had also filed a notice of claim which allows the village to take legal action if it wishes.

Calimeri said the notice of claim provided certain time limits for the village to file a lawsuit or waive its right to do so. The county previously agreed to an extension to Mayville’s Notice of Claim, but did not offer another. “This…deal was set to expire and the county attorneys would not grant us a new one, largely because the attorneys making this decision were on vacation,” he said.

That’s why, Calimeri explained, the village went ahead and formally filed a lawsuit.

After Tuesday’s meeting, the village council met in executive session to discuss a legal matter. They didn’t say whether the legal issue was about the lawsuit against the county or something unrelated.



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