Water worries spur Elma officials to plan for additional tank
Worried that the proverbial well will run dry if nothing is done, Elma officials are considering a new water tank, along with plans for a new highway garage near the Town Hall campus complex.
During a work session on April 12, Town Supervisor Dennis Powers called the additional tank — which would hold an estimated 2 million to 2.5 million gallons — “a critical need,” based on increasing water consumption in the town, and the worry that running out of water will trigger a three- to four-day water boil mandated by the county.
“The huge concern is the possibility of a water boil if the tank goes dry — any of the tanks,” he said, explaining that should the town’s smallest tank on Jamison Road run out, operations such as Steuben Foods and Moog would likely have to shut down for three to four days, unable to boil the volume of water they need to operate. “We don’t want to be in that position. A new tank will solve that problem.”
He added that the new tank was a recommendation of an engineering study done in 1999, and the town needs to act now.
“We’ve kicked the can since ’99,” he said. “[The report] recommended a second tank at Jamison back then.”
According to Town Water Department Superintendent
Eugene Stevenson, the Jamison Road tank holds 500,000 gallons and refills four to eight times daily, depending upon the time of year.
Should it run dry, a loss of pressure would necessitate a water boil for consumers and require the town to take water samples over three consecutive days, testing for water clarity.
Concerning water use, he said that over the past 15 years, annual consumption in Elma has increased by approximately 228 million gallons, from 479.6 million in 2000 to 708.2 million in 2016.
He said daily consumption during that period increased by about 200,000 gallons every five years, from 1.3 million in 2000, to 1.9 million in 2015.
Like Powers, Stevenson said now is the time to construct the tank if Elma wants to support its economy and protect local jobs.
“Because we’re so much higher than we were in 2000 when the report came out, [we’ve] got to do it now,” he said, calling the tank a 50-year improvement. “There’s too many jobs at stake, with the number of employees at Moog and Steuben.”
According to Powers, the town was to receive estimates on the cost of the proposed tank from three engineering firms by Wednesday afternoon, after press time.
The board will further discuss the proposed tank prior to one of its meetings in May, which will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday May 3; 6 p.m. Wednesday May 10; and 7 p.m. Wednesday May 17.
All meetings will be held in the Town Hall campus complex, 1600 Bowen Road.