FREDONIA, N.Y. — State and local leaders threw the switch on a new water district Wednesday serving 36,000 people in Northern Chautauqua County. The $30 million project is expected to save millions of taxpayer dollars.

"This has been a long time coming,” said Don Steager, chair of the Northern Chautauqua County Water District. “A lot of people have been involved with this to get to this point.”

The project includes a new pump station and two larger supply lines along Route 5 originating in Dunkirk.  One stretches to Brocton, while the other services existing customers in Dunkirk, Pomfret and Portland.

"We're anticipating a better water supply to them, more even pressure because of the new distribution line that's coming down the road," said Steger.

Dunkirk will be the supplier, as improvements to its own water plant helped increase capacity. 

"It increases the customer base in the city and therefore it brings in more revenue. But also because we're helping residents in other communities receive good, high-quality water," said Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas.

County leaders say with water flowing from Lake Erie, one of the area's leading economic drivers, the district will help areas suffering from decades old issues.

"Working with every municipality here in Northern Chautauqua County to provide safe, reliable drinking water from the greatest source of natural fresh water in the world right here,” said Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello. “ I'm very proud that we have tapped into that.”

Funding for the project was made possible through various grants and from Empire State Development.

"This is a statement of the importance of sharing services and working together. Saying to outsiders this community's ready to move forward. Help us and we will get it done," said Richard Tobe, deputy director state operations for special projects for the state.  

Leaders hope to tap into other parts of the county down the road.