At the same time, the sewage treatment plant is being overburdened because ground water is getting into the sewer lines and storm water that does not need treated is flowing into the sewer plant, said Pete Furr, superintendent of the waste water treatment plant and the utilities manager.
Some of the ground water flowing into the sewer lines could be leaks from the water lines, Furr said.
Officials won't know until a study, expected to take weeks, is completed. The study is part of a $2 million sewer project intended to solve the infiltration problem and also to expand the sewer plant's capacity from 1.2 million gallons per day to 2 million gallons per day, he said.
"If we don't do this we're going to stifle the growth," Furr said.
Consultants are going over the town's sewer lines, looking for places where the infiltration is taking place, Furr said.
The water flowing into the sewer lines could be coming from streams, through the ground water table, or possibly from leaking water lines, Furr said.
As part of the study, the workers have had to open up manholes throughout Charles Town. Many of the manholes had been paved over by years of roadwork, Furr said.
The streets will be repaired as soon as possible with special collars placed around the manhole openings to raise the covers up to street level, Furr said.
There also is a problem when at times highly septic waste flows into the sewage treatment plant, killing off the bacteria that helps break down the sewage, Furr said.
It is unknown what causes the occasional flow of highly septic waste, but it could be a problem with waste not flowing properly through the sewer lines, Furr said.
Work also is underway to determine where the water is flowing out of the water lines, said Mayor J. Randolph Hilton.
New water meters are being installed at more than 3,100 homes in the Charles Town area, said Charles Town Manager Jane Arnett.
Some of the water being lost could be going into homes that are not being billed, Hilton said.
The $600,000 project to install new water meters also includes funds for computer software and new computers to help in the billing, Hilton said.