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LOCKPORT - The Lockport Common Council will vote Wednesday to spend $24,445 toward a study of the condition of its raw water supply line from the Niagara River, Mayor Michael W. Tucker said.
The North Tonawanda Common Council already approved an identical appropriation Aug. 21. The two cities are moving toward a possible agreement for North Tonawanda to sell treated drinking water to Lockport.
However, that will work only if Lockport's 13-mile pipeline from the North Tonawanda riverfront is in good enough condition to handle treated water.
That's the reason for the study primarily to be funded by a grant from the state Department of State. North Tonawanda Mayor Robert G. Ortt said the two cities are splitting the 20 percent match required for the grant to be received.
Norman D. Allen, Lockport director of engineering and public works, said Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, the Buffalo engineering firm that carried out the feasibility study for a multicity water deal in Niagara County, will handle the analysis of the pipeline.
The firm's initial study concluded that it was not technically feasible for Niagara Falls to join in a common water supply system with Lockport and North Tonawanda but that the latter two could work out such an arrangement.
"What we're looking at is a landmark deal that will save ratepayers money in North Tonawanda and Lockport," Ortt said.
But Tucker noted that his corporation counsel, John J. Ottaviano, had learned that participation in the grant or the study does not commit Lockport to buying water from North Tonawanda. If Lockport intends to stop treating its own water, Alderman Patrick W. Schrader, longtime chairman of Lockport's Water and Sewer Committee, has spoken out in favor of buying from the Niagara County Water District, which already has a supply valve in Lockport.
The county charges 75 cents per 1,000 gallons to its customers. Ortt said the price North Tonawanda would charge Lockport has yet to be discussed.
"Obviously, if this [pipeline study] comes back in the negative, the project's probably dead. We're trying to take this step by step rather than muddy up the waters on the back end," Ortt said. "We know there's a minimum price we'd have to charge to make it economically feasible for North Tonawanda."
Tucker said the three miles of pipeline closest to Lockport is the issue. It is 80 years old, while the other 10-mile section was replaced during the 1990s.
"It's a good idea to find out the condition of our line at a minimal cost. We've got another municipality helping to pay the cost of inspecting our line. It's good information for us to have," Tucker said.
The Niagara County Health Department would have to approve the use of the pipeline to carry treated water.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com