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Lake and Valley Clarion NewspaperGenesee Country MagazineClarion Communications

Water wars break out as county pushes for authority
Avon town and village want different sources

Chapter I: Brewing Animosity

In the April 5, 1990 Clarion, there was a below-the-fold story entitled "Avon advised: Get ready to filter water." Little did anyone suspect that this would mark the beginning of one of the most bitter issues of the decade: the notorious Avon water war.

An EPA mandate had been put into effect, requiring all open body water sources, like Avon's Conesus Lake source, to filter water by a year 2005 deadline. Avon, whose intake was at the north end of the lake, in water frequently churned up by currents and wind, had a long history of turbidity problems. At this early date, engineering estimates projected a cost of $1 million to $3.4 million for the filtration plant. The high end figure would prove to be the correct one.

Events in the Town of Livonia were to play a significant role in the Water War. The October 4, 1990 Clarion reported increasing water rates in Livonia, which might be countered by a village-town system consolidation. Livonia, which was receiving its water from the City of Rochester at Hemlock Lake, did not have to worry about building a filtration plant for itself. The City had commenced construction of a state-of-the-art plant which would process all the water drawn from Hemlock Lake.

The Village of Geneseo was likewise under mandate to build a filtration plant. The Village of Avon, alert to possible efficiencies, had commission a study for a joint Avon-Geneseo plant. The dual plant supposedly had a $200,000 higher price tag than separate plants. More significantly, the Geneseo Village Board was not really interested in any partnership. And neither of the villages were interested in a partnership with Livingston County.

In 1990 the county had commissioned a comprehensive water study by Clark Patterson Engineering, which recommended an overall consolidation of village and town water systems, with networking and liberal use of the Hemlock Lake source. Neither Avon or Geneseo liked the idea of surrendering control of their systems to a county level entity.

In September of 1992, when a County Water Authority was proposed to orchestrate and implement future water expansion and networking, both Geneseo Mayor Hatheway and Avon Mayor Whitney registered objection.

In spite of the April 1, 1993 date of the story, the village board was not fooling about building a filtration plant-and it predicted that "Avon water rates may double." Meanwhile, county government was following an opposite course. In January of, 1994 , the supervisors resolved 14-to-3 to make a request to New York State for permission to create a Livingston County Water & Sewer Authority.

Forward to Chapter 2: First Shot Fired

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