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Frozen Water Lines on 72nd Street Caused by Another Botched Engineer-less Dyster Road Job

Mayor Dyster on 72nd St., discusses frozen water lines.

Over the weekend, WGRZ-TV (Ch. 2 News) did a report on homes on 72nd St. in LaSalle being without water for the past week.

The report did not answer why there was no water. They did report that a letter was sent to residents by the Niagara Falls Water Board disavowing any responsibility.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster, appearing in a baseball cap and parka, was interviewed as part of the story. He said, "The water line running from your house to the main in the street does belong to you as a homeowner. (Calling plumbers at homeowner's expense) was the right thing for people to do, as long as they thought it was a problem that just affected them or their next-door neighbor."

However, he continued, "we've got a larger issue here. I would ask anybody to save their receipts in case they could be reimbursed later."

He added that it's not known what the problem is and that the city will bring in a contractor to look at the issue.

The Reporter learned that 10 homes - on the 500 block of 72nd St. and two homes on 77th Street, had frozen water lines. Most of them were thawed out on Monday using electrical current run through the lines - a temporary fix.

We also learned that when there is a cluster of homes without water, to suggest that the problem is individual water lines is highly unlikely.

In 2010, the Dyster administration designed and performed a full-depth reconstruction of 72nd Street between Buffalo Avenue and Niagara Falls Boulevard.

The Reporter was told by sources that the road and sidewalks were lowered which brought the homeowner's lateral water lines closer to the surface in places between the street and the sidewalks.

One source at the scene on Monday said that some residents' water lines, under the right of way, which he personally inspected, are less than three feet from the surface. Water lines are by code supposed to be six inches below the freeze line, which is 48-52 inches below ground.

If this is the case, the mistake is a serious design error and the fault may be either the designer or those charged with the final inspection of the job.

Sources added that some lateral water lines may have been backfilled improperly using stone and not with packed earth which is a better insulator than porous stone.

This is not the first time there was an engineering problem with the 72nd Street job.

Along the road, due to flawed design engineering, more than 20 homes have improperly laid sewer lateral lines. The design placed them in the same spot as existing water lines according to sources close to the scene and with firsthand experience with these facts.

At one time, several lateral sewer lines broke and raw sewage ran under the street for a few months. After a while, they backed up and blocked the sewers forcing the Dyster administration to take action, just as they are doing now with the frozen water lines.

The Dyster administration did not back charge the contractor for the broken sewer lines and taxpayers paid for the work. This suggests that it was the fault of the city,, not the contractor.

During Dyster's six years in office, the city has been without a licensed engineer for approximately three years. Most of the biggest projects, like the courthouse and Lewiston Road have been done without a licensed engineer. All of them have had major cost overruns.

The train station is on board to be built this year and there is no engineer for the city.

The city's last engineer, Jeffrey Skurka, was fired when he refused to approve shortcuts and potential safety hazards on the botched Lewiston Road reconstruction project, something that came to light through a series of investigative articles in the Niagara Falls Reporter and ultimately resulted in the contractor getting fined by OSHA, and taxpayers paying millions more for the job.

The Ch. 2 reporter interviewed an elderly veteran who could hardly walk and he said that he is no longer physically able to hoist the heavy water bottles that he has to use to flush his toilet. Another lady said she was buying bottles of water to use to flush her toilet. Presently their water is back on until the next freeze.

We found out about this issue just before press time.

This week we hope to find out more answers.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

Feb 04, 2014