Property Owners Who Rent — a subdivision of the Chautauqua Property Owners Association — held its first meeting of the season Wednesday afternoon to discuss Chautauqua Institution’s water distribution system and updates on street lighting.
The discussion was led by Chautauqua Utility District Superintendent Mike Starks, who assumed the position in May 2018 when his predecessor, Tom Cherry, retired after 40 years of service.
Some street lights on Instiution grounds were owned by Buffalo’s National Grid until February, when CUD purchased the street lights from the company after nearly 10 years of work, Starks said. The lights formerly owned by National Grid will all eventually be replaced with either Cree LED lights in cobra head lamps, or Neri 804 Heritage lamps with LED bulbs, as requested by the CPOA. Starks expects the project to be completed by next season.
However, attendees raised concerns about critically underlit areas, specifically around the Hall of Christ and South Parking Lot. While there is no immediate plan to address those areas, Starks said he would look into furnishing emergency lighting.
These plans were approved by the CPOA in 2016, and will not raise taxes or create additional charges or fees for property owners, according to Institution Trustee Bill Neches.
Starks also went in-depth into the water treatment plant and distribution systems. The Institution draws surface water from Chautauqua Lake into the plant where chemicals and filters disinfect the water.
The disinfected water is then pumped into homes and to the 1 million-gallon storage tanks on the courses at the Chautauqua Golf Club. Daily, the water treatment plant pumps out 500 gallons of water per minute, according to Starks.
Used water is sent to what Starks called a “state-of-the-art,” multimillion-dollar wastewater treatment plant, updated in late 2017. After the waste is separated and filtered, the clean water is flushed back into Chautauqua Lake.
“What we return to the lake is much, much cleaner than what we take in,” Starks said.
When asked why CUD doesn’t switch to ground water harvested from drilled wells, Starks said wells could not support the Institution’s water intake. However, CUD is exploring alternative water sources in the event of lake water contamination.
Additionally, CUD will be updating pipes across the grounds based on pipe age and disrepair; that project will take place in phases ranging from five to 20 years.
The next POWR meeting, at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, in the Presbyterian House Chapel, will focus on landscaping.