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Water watch on in Fulton Co.

June 10, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The current dry spell shouldn't bring a repeat of conditions that forced local residents earlier this year to conserve water, Borough Manager Kenneth Myers said Thursday.

Residents of nearby Fulton County may not be so lucky.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday officially placed the county on a Drought Warning Status, according to Lisa K. Sherman, director of the Fulton County Emergency Management Agency.

According to Sherman, a drought warning status is a precautionary move that paves the way for a coordinated response to eminent drought conditions and potential water supply shortages. It includes voluntary conservation measures to avoid future shortages, she said.

While there is no mandate yet, residents should use less water in case conditions worsen.

"We just want to let people know," Sherman said.

Property owners with wells also could be affected by lack of rainfall, she said.

Mahlon Shimer, a member of the McConnellsburg Water Authority, is urging customers to be cautious with their water consumption.

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"We don't want it to be a problem, so it's better to save now for later," Shimer said.

Six months ago, the same late autumn-early winter drought that threatened public water supplies in McConnellsburg forced the Greencastle Area Water Authority to force severe water-use restrictions on the 3,900 residents and businesses it serves. The customers were also ordered to boil their water before drinking it.

The wells and springs that supply the Greencastle system had reached dangerously low levels, prompting the authority to get a special permit from the DEP to hook on to Ebberts Spring, a water source not used since the authority's new treatment plant opened in 1995.

The crisis ended in mid-January when heavy winter rains and snow melt brought water levels back to normal.

Myers said Thursday the current dry spell has had no effect on Greencastle's water supplies. One reason is the authority hired a firm to check the system for leaks after the drought. Enough leaks were found and plugged to save the system about 225,000 gallons of water a day, Myers said.

The authority is negotiating with land owners for rights of way for a 2.5-mile pipeline that will carry water from Ebberts Spring to the treatment plant. When completed this fall, the system will be supplied by three springs and two back-up wells, Myers said.

Before the plant was built, water was treated at the individual springs and wells.

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