The town of Elma is a very pleasant growing community located in Erie County about twelve miles from the City of Buffalo. It covers an area of thirty-six miles of gentle hills and woods. Having no village within its boundaries it is wholly governed by a town board, thus eliminating all of the duplicities of governmental agencies common to many towns in New York State.
In 1963, through the untiring effort of our late Supervisor Merle E Reuther, the townspeople overwhelmingly voted in favor of forming a water district encompassing 85% of the Town's area. The cost was approximately five million dollars and meant starting from scratch. The entire town was on individual wells and many were unreliable, others sulphurous or salty. We had to rely on tank trucks for fire protection. Many people bought water to fill their cisterns and wells. It was not a good situation from any point of view.
Cherry, Preble, Conable and Sampson, Consulting Engineers from nearby Orchard Park designed the entire system. In 1966, it consisted of two pumping stations, each with a capacity of 4000 G.P,M and provisions for adding another 2000 G.P.M. without major pipe changes. Water is purchased from the Erie County Water Authority and is supplied from their 36-inch line, which runs along the west town line. The district was divided into three systems and none are interconnected.
Water was available to the first customer on November 2, 1964 and as construction continued and the approximate 95 miles of water lines were made available, more consumers were hooked up providing to over 1500 homes.
We do not employ any meter readers for we mail meter-reading cards to each customer with the request that the attached self-addressed postage paid card be returned in five days. Inasmuch as many homes are those of husband and wife both working and away all day, this has greatly reduced the number of estimated bills. We do, however, read all meters in pits.
Our public relations have been mostly enjoyable and being still a small district most of our customer contacts has been either by phone or a personal call. New customers are required to file an application in person which enables us to meet them personally and discuss their problems and explain the billing, rates, and other facets of our function. In the event of an interruption of service, advance notice is given each customer when such an interruption is planned; where the interruption is unplanned due to a break, whenever possible we notify as many customers as quickly as possible by either phone or personal call.
In the last forty years not much has changed except we now have increased pumping capacity of over 6000 G.P.M. at both pump stations. We now have over 4500 active accounts. The Town of Elma Water District is a water distribution system, with three (3) storage tanks, which have a storage capacity of two and a quarter million gallons, two pumping stations with 136 miles of water lines and 770 fire hydrants.
Our first water department superintendent, F. Harry Neidig, was hired in October 1964 and served till his retirement on January 31, 1982. Dennis Siebert held the position from February 1, 1982 until October 27, 1999. Our third and acting superintendent is Eugene F. Stevenson who accepted the position after Denny's retirement on October 28, 1999.
On September 24,1966 our office and pump station was dedicated in the memory of Merle E Reuther for his long hours to bring water to Elma. The Jamison Road pump station was dedicated on October 9, 1988 in the name of J. William Lexo the town supervisor form 1963 to 1987 for his dedication and untiring efforts to make the dream of a town wide water service a reality.
In 2003 the Elma Water District purchased 558,166,000 gallons of water from the Erie County Water Authority. The area we serve has a population of 11,400 people. Our gross operating revenue was 1,614,923.05 with an unaccounted loss of water of approximately 5 percent. Some examples of unaccounted loss of water are water used for fire fighting, fire training, water breaks, hydrant and water line flushing.