BUFFALO, NY – The Town of Aurora has officially merged its water system with the Erie County Water Authority (ECWA) through the finalization of a Direct Service Agreement between the town and ECWA. ECWA will take sole ownership of the water districts in the town, and all former town water customers will now be customers of ECWA.
The town’s water system consisted of 22 separate water districts along with two improvement areas. The extensive costs related to recent and future infrastructure investment needs throughout the water districts prompted the town to begin merger discussions with ECWA in 2013. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was approved on September 18, 2014, and additional MOU’s were revised and approved in 2015 and 2019.
The town held a mandatory public referendum on April 30, 2019, that resulted in a final vote of 200 to 12 in favor of the merger with ECWA. The town board approved the Direct Service Agreement on June 10, 2019, and ECWA’s approval occurred on June 13, 2019.
The town is now officially out of the public water utility business and ECWA will own and be solely responsible for the town’s entire water system, including operations, maintenance, and all future infrastructure investment.
All residential customers in the town will now pay ECWA’s rate of $3.29 per 1,000 gallons of delivered water. Customers in the town’s current northern service district will have their rate decreased from $4.51 per 1,000 gallons, equating to a savings of about $97.00 annually. Customers in the town’s current east and southeast service district will see their rate reduced from about $6.90 per 1,000 gallons, resulting in annual savings of about $288.00 for the average customer.
“It’s been a long process but well worth the wait,” said Aurora Town Supervisor James J. Bach. “This merger has the potential to provide more efficient service and cost savings for our residents. Thank you to the Town Board, Town Clerk Martha Librock, Town Attorney Ronald Bennett and the Erie County Water Authority for their extensive help throughout this process.”
“The Erie County Water Authority is proud to have partnered with the Town of Aurora on this successful merger and looks forward to providing dependable service and safe, clean drinking water to Aurora residents in these water districts,” said ECWA Chairman Jerome Schad. “The town has shown great leadership on behalf of its residents by working diligently to make this merger a reality, which will result in long term savings for the town and ratepayers.”
Chairman Schad added that over the past twenty years the ECWA has been engaged in a series of water system consolidations whereby independent municipal water systems have merged with the ECWA, resulting in significant savings and more cost-effective service delivery. Aurora joins a growing list of municipalities that realized the economies of scale achieved by ECWA helps lower system-wide costs by spreading them over a much larger customer base compared to a patchwork of smaller municipal systems.