Town experiencing problems maintaining water tank levels
By Terry Duffy
Water use is becoming more restrictive in Lewiston.
Despite this past week's round of thunderstorms that dumped close to 1-3/4 inches of rain in the area, Lewiston and northern Niagara County remain in the midst of a severe drought situation. And now Niagara County wants the town to do something about it.
The Lewiston Town Board learned as much on Monday.
"We were contacted this week by the Niagara County Water Department. With the severe drought that we're having, we're having problems filling our water storage tank," said Mike Townsend of the town's Water Department.
He said the tank holds roughly 3 million gallons, but he's been having problems keeping it filled to capacity. Townsend said that, with peak demands, the tank has remained roughly nine feet shy of capacity. He said the county asked the town to consider a temporary water ban for nonessential uses, such as washing vehicles, filling swimming pools and extending watering of lawns and gardens.
"I'm recommending that you consider that," Townsend said.
"I actually took the phone call on this," said Town Supervisor Steve Broderick, who related he went straight to Townsend to get answers. "At first, it was all Greek to me, then Mike explained exactly how it works.
What is normally 31 feet was down to 22 feet, and the 20-foot level is where you start affecting pressure. .... They pumped it overnight and all they could get was 22 feet."
"We're having a problem getting past that level. Just using so much water throughout the day," Townsend said. He told the board he contacted area golf courses and requested a limit on daytime watering. "The next step would be a mandatory ban. We don't want to see that happen."
Townsend said the last time Lewiston was faced with similar drought conditions was in the summer of 1988 when a voluntary ban was put in effect.
"We had a voluntary ban for a short period of time, and Mother Nature cooperated," Councilman Bill Geiben said. He suggested the town pursue a similar voluntary ban this time and curb water use both day and night until the drought lessens.
"I would say no unnecessary use of water," Townsend said. "At this point, they can't even fill the water tank at night. That's when they generally fill it."
Broderick said the temporary voluntary water use ban would cover the entire Town and Village of Lewiston and that Mayor Terry Collesano is in full agreement. Townsend said Niagara County is considering asking other communities to consider similar measures.
The board's water use motion passed unanimously and remains in effect until further notice.
In other news from Monday's session:
•Water use was again the topic in another matter when the town announced a public hearing on a proposed water bill levy fee local law will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8, prior to the Town Board work session. The proposed law concerns delinquent water billing and a change with regard to placing delinquent bills on the county tax levy.
The act is seen as a measure encouraging residents to pay up before their bills reach delinquent status.
Further information on the proposed law can be obtained via the town clerk's office.
•Monday saw the first opportunity for two public commentary sessions - one at the leadoff and another at the end of the board session. Rose Mary Warren of Sanborn discussed the recent Sanborn-Lewiston Farm Museum Festival, and threw some lighthearted jabs Broderick's way for his pancake cooking and serving.
Resident Paulette Glasgow spoke later on, inquiring about the status of the long-stalled New York Power Authority hydropower rebate checks for residents. Town Finance Officer Martha Blazick said the rebates remain at a standstill as she was still pursuing an outside firm to handle the logistics of processing and mailing the checks.
•The town announced the date for its planned town audit work session has been changed to Tuesday, Aug. 16 (3 p.m.), at Town Hall. The session is open to the public.