With local water issues coming to the fore recently, Dunkirk Public Works Department Manager Randy Woodbury decided to provide details of the town’s interconnection with Fredonia earlier this month. Woodbury gave a presentation filled with history and data at a meeting of the city council‘s public works department committee.
He started at the very beginning, stating that the Dunkirk-Fredonia link line was established in the early 1970s after Hurricane Agnes caused the Fredonia Reservoir to silt up. The connection was improved in the 1990s with a small pumping station on Vineyard Drive, “to supplement Fredonia during possible summer droughts when the reservoir system is at low levels at times”, according to a written version of the presentation, provided by Woodbury. The station tripled the interconnect’s capacity from 200 gallons per minute (GPM) to 600.
“Nevertheless,” He continued, “The station fell into disrepair and was dismantled and rebuilt for several months a few years ago and was not yet in service when Fredonia faced a three-week boil water event (in September 2020).” It can currently run up to 800 gallons per minute, but performs best at 400-600 GPM.
Woodbury said that “recent total feed to Fredonia to assist with their sewage plant upgrades and other needs” is 3.7 million gallons.
He then issued a statement regarding the city’s major water main break on Lake Shore Drive on August 31. “At the end of August 2021, Fredonia’s supply was maintained at 600 GPM for several days, but the Fredonia pump station shut down quite mysteriously and quickly, then at 400 GPM just before a large rupture occurred …where Fredonia’s supply from the Dunkirk main pumps turns south to supply the interconnection.
He called the events “synchronous in time and possibly related” but said procedures are in place to prevent them from happening again.
Woodbury then detailed the Dunkirk-Fredonia flow which occurred on February 28 after a main break near Temple Street exposed the village system.
It lasted seven hours and brought 153,000 gallons of water to Fredonia, he said. Woodbury said complaints of colored water in Fredonia were reported at 6:30 a.m., two hours before the power was turned on. “This is mentioned because the pre-Fredonia water color has been mentioned as possibly coming from the Dunkirk feed, which Dunkirk says is not the case,” he said.
A similar Fredonia power system in Dunkirk established in the 1990s can power the D&F Plaza and Vineyard Drive at around 300 GPM, Woodbury continued. The system has been used three times on two separate occasions – one of them during the Aug. 31 main break on Lake Shore Drive, the other being city improvements to its Main Street water station .
He said each feed cut off after about three hours “as Fredonia requested so as not to stress their facilities which were still under construction.”
Woodbury ended with a comparison of the Dunkirk and Fredonia water systems.
While Fredonia uses a tank, “We get our water half a mile from Lighthouse Point (at Point Gratiot). It’s in 30 feet of water. He said Fredonia’s system has an average flow rate of 800 gallons per minute with a practical maximum of 1,300 GPM. The Dunkirk system – which also serves North County Water District customers in neighboring towns – has an average flow rate of 2,500 GPM but could reach 7,000.
“There is a big difference between what we are currently producing and what we can produce”, he said.