UPDATE: The county applauds the Village of Fredonia for prioritizing public health and water quality

UPDATE: The county applauds the Village of Fredonia for prioritizing public health and water quality

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MAYVILLE, NY – The Chautauqua County Health Department (CCHD) declared a boil water order in cooperation 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 the conditions that will trigger a boil water order.

Access to safe water is a primary and fundamental focus in Public Health practice. It is essential to the work CCHD does every day to promote healthy drinking water and prevent disease and illness. People usually access water through private water systems, such as wells, or public water systems (PWS) such as those serving many towns and villages across the country. New York State law requires local Health Departments to monitor these systems to ensure they are maintained and operating properly in order to produce safe water for their communities and customers.

All water operators must report any emergency affecting their treatment processes to the county Health Department pursuant to New York Compendium 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 problems occur. The Department of Health is working with the operator to determine how best to handle the issue at hand, and when a boil water order is necessary; this communication improves response time and expedites problem resolution. Most importantly, as part of this partnership and process, the Department of Health provides clear and timely communication to potential affected water customers through the issuance of Boil Water Notices. The Department of Health provides these notices on behalf of the municipality to allow the operator to focus on repair and use the reach of the county to reinforce 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,” says Michael Ferguson, the village’s mayor. “Unfortunately, this not only affects our residents, but our college, businesses and visitors. We need to resolve this issue not only for the current residents, but also for their grandchildren.”

“The domestic pump in the building has failed. This pump circulates water through a water heater at the bottom of our chlorinators via a spray unit which then disperses the chlorine pellets to make the sanitizer,” explains Luis Fred, Fredonia Water Operator. “We noticed the problem overnight during hourly rounds and started troubleshooting immediately. Unfortunately, isolated incidents like this happen and are not the 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 water we can and we will continue to do so.”

“Louis and Mayor Ferguson did an excellent job of executing the regulatory process, and because of that, they probably avoided what could have been a much bigger and longer issue for the community and their customers,” explains Lacey Wilson, Director of Public Health. “They are fighting an uphill battle with the outdated infrastructure they currently have in place. Failures of this type should come as no surprise, however, as our Water Specialists at the Department of Health have identified these potential issues in an effort to prevent further problems. These issues are not uncommon by any means, as we see this happen routinely when legacy systems are not regularly upgraded or patched. The good news is that they are making positive progress, and we at the Department of Health are excited to see Mayor Ferguson prioritize the health of our public, as former Mayor Essek did.

CCHD continues to provide technical assistance to the village to remediate the aging water system infrastructure and has made significant progress over the past few months. In December, the Village approved a plan to decommission its water plant, retire the reservoir and draw water from Dunkirk. The village is currently working with their engineering firm to develop plans to implement this new agreement.

“Unfortunately, predictions by our diligent public health staff have come true, leading to Fredonia’s water pump breaking down and necessitating a boil water order. As frustrations simmer amid this ongoing challenge, it is important to note that the Village of Fredonia has a comprehensive plan in place to correct its water problems,” said Chautauqua County Executive Paul M. Wendel Jr. “The continued collaboration between the Health Department of Chautauqua County and the Village remains a crucial effort, based on 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 Department of Health has positioned the village to respond quickly and effectively.”

The Chautauqua County Health Department encourages all residents to sign up for 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 real-time guidance and recommendations from emergency personnel. Residents can register 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 may call the Health Department directly at (716) 753-4481.

About the Chautauqua County Health Department – The Chautauqua County Health Department is the premier Public Health organization in Chautauqua County dedicated to supporting the health of the community. The Department of Health takes innovative approaches to provide technical assistance to partner organizations and provides a variety of programs and services to help prevent disease, protect public health, and promote the overall health and well-being of our community. For more information visit www.HealthyCHQ.com.

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