Much of Erie County's water system is 100 years old

Posted at 11:50 AM, Mar 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-03 18:47:39-05

One of the priorities of President Trump's administration is seeing major infrastructure repairs made across the country.  Water infrastructure is something that is a big concern here in Erie County because of the age of our water system.

Last summer, and aging water main in Amherst ruptured knocking out water for residents in northeast Erie County for days.  That pipe was installed in 1971 but there are many miles of pipe in Erie County that are much older.

Earl Jann, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the Erie County Water Authority, had some eye-opening statistics when it comes to the old water system in our area:

-There are 500 to 600 miles of old pipes in Erie County.

-The oldest parts of the system are 100 years old and include lots of cast iron pipe in Amherst, West Seneca, Cheektowaga, City of Tonawanda, and Lackawanna.

-Thanks to the acidic nature of Erie County's soil, those pipes continue to deteriorate.  In 2015, there were 1,500 breaks.

-The cost to replace pipe is approximately $2 million per mile in urban areas and $1 million per mile in urban areas.

-The water authority is now allocating $28 million this year for repairs, but at the rate, it will take 50 years to replace all the old pipes.  That money comes from customers.

-$1 billion dollars is needed to make all the repairs to the Erie County Water Authority system.

Friday afternoon in Buffalo, a group called "Rebuild NY Now" held a press conference with lawmakers, environmentalists and labor leaders, to raise awareness of the problem.  The group called on the NYS Legislature to approve Governor Cuomo's proposed "Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017."  The $2 billion initiative would help repair aging water infrastructure, upgrade wastewater systems, and provide new efforts to protect drinking water at its source.

The proposed legislation is now being looked at as part of a new state budget.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his reports.