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Article and Photos by Joshua Maloni
Village of Lewiston Department of Public Works employees reportedly were out until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, dealing with a rash of watermain breaks that occurred Monday.
Problems began during testing conducted in conjunction with a pending project to replace the piping on North Ninth Street.
Following the initial repair work, DPW Superintendent Larry Wills said, “There were six breaks yesterday and into last night.”
He explained the Niagara County Water District was brought in to help shut a 12-inch main line “to verify some work that we're having done on the North Ninth Street waterline.”
“Once we started disturbing the valves, the water lines started popping everywhere in the village,” Wills said. “It ended up turning into a nightmare.
“The Town of Lewiston came in to help us. The contractor, DJM, he came in to help us out, because we had so many breaks. In the 12-inch line, we had to cut a section out (about 8 feet at the corner of South Ninth and Cayuga streets) and replace it.”
Watermain breaks were triggered across the village, leaving residents temporarily without water.
Wills said, “There was two on the 12-inch line on Ninth Street. And then there was one on Creek Road, which was a 6-inch; and then there was a 6-inch on Seneca. There was two on Seneca: One was out of a meter pit on Seneca Street, and then the other one was at the corner of Baker and Oxbow. That was a 6-inch.”
He noted, “There's a lot of lines in the village that need to be replaced.”
Over the past 20 years, superintendents “Dave Jacobs, Bryan Meigs, and Terry Brolinski and myself, all of us have tried to work with the board over the years, and tried to find the financing” to replace piping, Wills said. “That's the biggest problem is the financing for these old water lines. So much money involved. So, what (Mayor) Anne (Welch) is trying to do is she's asking the state for some assistance on starting to replace some of these lines.”
North Ninth Street repairs will be financed by a recent raise in municipal water fees.
“We allocated money through our water bills,” Wills said. “We have a small fee through our water bills. We’ve been building that up for a couple of years now, and that's helping pay for North Ninth Street. But it's just a drop of sand on the beach, I guess you would say.”
Ultimately, the waterline replacement project will stretch further down Center Street.
“We only have one source of water that comes into the village, off of Walker Drive,” Wills said. “And that line is nearly 100 years old. And we've already done plans on bringing a new main across the parkway, on 104, just as a second source – just in case that first source ever fails. And then we can start working on all of the streets that leg off of Center Street, mainly on the north side.”
The Village of Lewiston Department of Public Works had to cut into a 12-inch watermain line on South Ninth Street to fix a break on Monday.
Welch reported Wills and the DPW team were back out and working first thing Tuesday morning.
Wills said, “I want to say thanks to all my whole crew who stayed with us throughout the night. They changed their personal plans, so we can stick with this emergency situation. I want to thank Niagara County Water for coming down and helping us out. I want to thank the Town of Lewiston Water Department for helping us out, and also DJM Contracting. They're the contractors for North Ninth Street waterline. I called them out of the blue. They weren't even scheduled to come down here,” but came down to help out.
The mayor said, “I want to thank Superintendent Larry Wills and the Village of Lewiston Department of Public Works for the great job they did on Monday repairing the broken water lines. They worked from 9 a.m. to midnight without stopping. I stopped by the sites to see how they were doing and saw first-hand what a difficult and dirty job it is to dig up and fix the waterline breaks.
“Due to the breaks and water pressure, they had to fix six waterlines. The old waterlines break from time to time, but to have six in one day was unprecedented. Our guys will tell you it’s all in a day’s work and it’s what they do. I, for one, am very grateful for the great work they do every day to make this village a great place to live.
“I also want to thank the Town of Lewiston Water Department workers, Niagara County Water Department workers, and DJM Contracting for working with them to fix these breaks and getting the water service flowing again.”
Deputy Mayor Vic Eydt said another watermain break occurred Wednesday, on Eighth and Mohawk streets.
He echoed Welch’s statement.
“I want to say thanks and give credit to the DPW, for all those guys out there,” Eydt said. He also commended the Town of Lewiston, Niagara County and DJM Contracting for helping the village. “Without all their help, they would’ve been there for 24 hours instead of 13 hours.”
On March 6, trustees approved a motion awarding the North Ninth Street water system improvements project to DJM Contracting Inc., at a cost of $278,000.