MAYVILLE, N.Y. – The Chautauqua County Health Department (CCHD) declared a boil water order in collaboration with the Village of Fredonia on Thursday, affecting all water customers. To deepen understanding of the processes and systems involved, the health department is providing an update to explain conditions that would prompt a boil water order.
Access to safe water is a primary and foundational focus in Public Health practice. It is central to the work the CCHD does each day to promote healthy drinking water and prevent illness and disease. People typically access water by way of private water systems, like wells, or public water systems (PWS) like the ones that serve many towns and villages across the country. New York State law requires local Health Departments to monitor these systems to ensure they are properly maintained and operated in order to produce safe water for their communities and customers.
All water operators are required to report any emergency that effects their treatment processes to the county Health Department per the New York Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) Part 5 Subpart 5-1 Section 5-1.23 and section 5-1.78. This ensures that efficient communication and technical assistance is provided in real-time when issues occur. The Health Department works with the operator to determine how best to address the issue at hand as well as when a boil water order is necessary; this communication improves response time and expedites resolution of the issue. Most importantly, as part of this partnership and process, the Health Department provides clear and timely communication with potentially effected water customers by way of issuing “Boil Water Notices.” The Health Department provides these notices on behalf of the municipality to allow the operator to focus on the repair and to utilize the County’s reach to amplify the message with the NY-Alert system.
“We are working diligently to find a long term solution to our water problem here in the Village,” states Michael Ferguson, Village Mayor. “Unfortunately, this affects not only our residents, but our college, our businesses and visitors alike. We need to resolve this issue not only for current residents but for their grandchildren and great grandchildren.”
“The domestic pump in the facility failed. This pump circulates water through a water heater into the bottom of our chlorinators by way of a spraying unit which then dissolves chlorine pellets to make the disinfectant,” Luis Fred, Fredonia’s Water Operator explains. “We noticed the problem overnight during hourly rounds and immediately started troubleshooting. Unfortunately, isolated incidences like this one happen, and is no fault of any individual. The Water Treatment Plant here in the Village of Fredonia has always put the interest of the Community first by producing the best quality of water we can and will continue to do so.”
“Luis and Mayor Ferguson did an excellent job executing the regulatory procedure, and because of that, most likely avoided what could have been a much larger and longer issue for their community and customers,” clarifies Lacey Wilson, Public Health Director. “They are fighting an uphill battle with the antiquated infrastructure they have in place, currently. Failures of this kind should come as no surprise, though, as our Water Specialists at the Health Department have cited these potential issues in an attempt to prevent further problems. These problems are not uncommon by any means, as we see this happen routinely when old systems are not regularly upgraded or over-hauled. The good news is, they are making positive headway and we at the Health Department are thrilled to see Mayor Ferguson prioritize our public’s health, as did former Mayor Essek.”
The CCHD continues to provide technical assistance to the Village to remedy the water system’s old infrastructure and within the past several months have made some significant headway. In December, the Village approved a plan to decommission its water plant, draw down the reservoir and acquire water from Dunkirk. The Village is currently working with their engineering firm to develop plans to implement this new arrangement.
“Unfortunately, predictions from our diligent public health staff have become a reality, leading to the breakdown of Fredonia's water pump and necessitating a boil water order. As frustrations simmer amidst this persistent challenge, it's important to note that the Village of Fredonia has a comprehensive plan in place to rectify the water issues,” said Chautauqua County Executive Paul M. Wendel Jr. “The ongoing collaboration between the Chautauqua County Health Department and the Village remains a crucial endeavor, grounded in the principles of science and public health. I wholeheartedly support our dedicated public health professionals and the Village of Fredonia for their tireless efforts in collaboration and strategic planning. Through their diligence and foresight, the Health Department has positioned the Village to respond swiftly and effectively.”
The Chautauqua County Health Department encourages all residents to sign up to the NY-Alert system to receive critical information and emergency alerts for Chautauqua County, including boil water orders. NY-Alert contains critical, emergency-related information including instructions and recommendations in real-time by emergency personnel. Residents can sign up at alert.ny.gov.
For more information on boiling water and emergency disinfection visit the New York State Department of Health website at www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/boilwater/. Press releases will be posted on the Chautauqua County website at chqgov.com/news. For more information, residents should call the Village of Fredonia at (716) 679-2307 and CCHD permitted facilities can call the Health Department directly at (716) 753-4481.
About Chautauqua County Health Department - The Chautauqua County Health Department is the leading Public Health organization in Chautauqua County dedicated to the support of the community’s health. The Health Department takes innovative approaches to provide technical assistance to partner organizations, and offers various programs and services in order to help prevent disease, protect the public’s health and promote our community’s overall health and wellness. For more information visit www.HealthyCHQ.com