From the city to the suburbs: aging infrastructure plagues western New York water services

Posted at 7:02 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 19:02:40-04

The City of Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda are two municipalities choosing to go it their own, and provide sewer and water service to residents without the help of the water authority.

In Buffalo, it is dealing with an aging infrastructure. Officials said a majority of Buffalo water pipes are 70 to 80 years old. and in the winter months, the city repairs anywhere from 50 to 80 water main breaks a month. Buffalo water officials said the problem here is worse compared to other New York cities.

“We built out our infrastructure. So, we have larger, per person infrastructure than our sister cities like Syracuse, Rochester and Albany. So, we have significantly more that we have to maintain. So, that makes our job a little tougher here in Buffalo,” said Buffalo Water Authority Chairman, Oluwole McFoy.

In Tonawanda, though its service area is smaller the city of Buffalo, it too is dealing with constant repairs and an aging infrastructure. We caught up with crews last month while they were handling a valve repair on Ellicott Creek Road.

“Water issues are what I hear about the most in this town and there’s a lot of work to be done,” said Town Councilwoman Shannon Patch.

Both areas could stand to benefit from federal funding and more specifically, President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan. If passed, it could provide a significant amount of grant funding to help tackle the replacing old pipes without raising rates on its customers. The bill is expected to be discussed in Congress sometime this summer.