SALAMANCA — A $130,000 emergency water well project in Salamanca to repair deteriorating pipes in the city’s water wells had bond funding approved Dec. 11 by the Common Council.

The Emergency Water Wellfield Refit Phase I project, which took place this fall, made needed repairs to several of the wells to make sure the city did not run out of water, explained Dennis Hensel, general manager of the Board of Public Utilities.

“We pulled out all the ancient steel pipe because it was rotten,” he said. “Our big pump started sucking air.”

The water plant’s pump acts like a big straw, Hensel said, pulling the water from the top rather than pushing from the bottom. As soon as the air leaks began, he said any water being sucked up dropped back down to the bottom and air was being sucked in instead.

With city occupants using more water than what was being pumped from the wells, the reserves could have soon run out, something Hensel said he was made aware of in late August.

“That’s what started the whole thing,” he said. “I called my board in and we had an emergency meeting Sept. 3.”

Beginning Oct. 15, the piping for about half of the city’s well field near the water treatment plant on Water Street was replaced with new HDPE pipes. The planning process began in late September with the final fixes wrapping up Nov. 22, Hensel said.

However, with the needed emergency project, the city had to notify Cattaraugus County, which Hensel said led to other updates to the system needing to be implemented.

“This still doesn’t get us out of trouble with the county,” he said. “That’ll be addressed in Phase II, and that is addressing our ability to pump when the power is off.”

Hensel said the county requires the city to come up with a plan in 120 days to pump water when electricity is down, which he said will involve installing a generator.

“It works fine when the electric is on, but as soon as the electric goes off, we have trouble maintaining water,” he said. “Like some towns across New York state have a 20-day outage. We’re lucky that we haven’t had to experience that.”

To bring the pumping apparatus up to date, Hensel said they have to go with a smaller voltage pumping system that can be run off of a generator compared to what is used now.

IN OTHER BUSINESS, the council approved submitting an American Legion Auxiliary Foundation Mission-in-Action grant application for up to $5,000 to offset the costs of printing the Hometown Heroes banners.

“It’s a quarterly grant, so my goal would be to get it in by the end of this month and have them hopefully approve it so we can get started,” explained Sandi Brundage, grant writer for the city.

In the coming months, the city is looking for area residents to purchase banners to honor a loved one, living or deceased, who served in the United States Armed Forces.

“It has to be active military or somebody with an honorable discharge,” Brundage said. “Their face goes on both sides with branch of military and dates of service.”

A banner would cost about $150 each, she said, but with the grant, a portion of that would be covered so a banner could be less than $100 each.

Salamanca IDA Director Ruthe Riehle said she would begin handing out applications to the American Legion and VFW posts so the city can begin collecting them to have banners ready to hang up by Memorial Day.

Going the length of Route 417 from the Seneca Allegany Casino to the Wildwood Ave underpass near the Clinton Street bridge, go up Wildwood to Main Street and then up Main Street, Brundage said there are about 80 poles for banners going every third pole with the others flying American and Seneca Nation flags.

To hang the banners, Riehle said she found a lift the city could rent so extra wear isn’t put on expensive equipment used by the Board of Public Utilities for electric repairs.

(Contact managing editor Kellen Quigley at kquigleysp@gmail.com)