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Water consumption in Pa. reduced

August 06, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Water restrictions that took effect in 55 Pennsylvania counties two weeks ago have reduced consumption in Franklin County, according to officials from several water systems.

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Local water authorities report that they have cut their average daily consumption anywhere from 3 percent to 20 percent.

Franklin County was one of three Pennsylvania counties that showed improvement in its water level, according to the Drought Information Center of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The monitoring well in Franklin County rose 4.32 feet in the four days prior to Tuesday. Twenty-four of the 27 monitoring wells across the state showed a drop in water levels, according to the report.

Gov. Tom Ridge imposed mandatory restrictions on July 20 The declaration banned such nonessential uses as watering lawns, topping off or filling swimming pools and washing cars with anything but a bucket.

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Gordon Cruickshanks, operations manger for the Waynesboro (Pa.) Borough Authority, said the system cut its water use from 1.58 million gallons a day to 1.4 million gallons.

"I expected less of a change. Actually, we're really happy with it right now," he said.

Cruickshanks said the system's 150 million gallon reservoir is about 1.5 inches below capacity.

"We're just fine," he said.

The Greencastle (Pa.) Authority has cut its water consumption from an average of about 720,000 gallons per day to about 700,000 gallons, according to chief operator Thomas Green.

Green said the water ban has accounted for part of the reduction.

"Some of that's because of leak drops, too, because we've fixed leaks," he said.

Green said the water system undertook a comprehensive inspection of the system to detect and repair leaks about two months ago. Now smaller leaks that went undetected the first time are being fixed, he said.

Green said the town's water supply remains healthy. A 13-million-gallon reservoir and a 500,000-gallon reservoir are full. He said the authority fired up two backup wells three times last month to replenish the reservoirs.

"Last year, we ran them constantly," he said. "Last year was worse."

The Washington Township (Pa.) Municipal Authority has reported a 17 percent drop in water use from about 500,000 gallons a day to 491,500 gallons.

"Water consumption is definitely down," said Eugene Barnhart, the manager of the water system. "Mostly, I think it's the lawn watering."

Barnhart said the reduction represents a return to more normal water-use levels. He said he could see from his own tomato plants that vegetable gardens and flower beds have needed much more water this summer.

"The heat has been so bad during the day that it's burned things up," he said. "Water consumption was way up because of the hot weather. The average person is willing to go along with the restrictions."

Barnhart said the township draws its water from three wells and three springs.

He said the water supply is lower than normal - about at the level it normally is during the first week of September. But the township has had enough extra water to be able to sell to Washington County, he said.

"It's always nice to be in a position to help somebody," he said. "Our water supplies are deep resources. Because of that, we don't see the impact of a drought at this time of year."

Chambersburg, Pa., has cut water consumption from an average of 4.3 million gallons a day to about 4 million gallons a day, according to Chambersburg Borough Water and Sewer Department Superintendent Carl Rundquist.

"We expected some drop. We had no way of knowing how much," he said.

Chambersburg has two reservoirs and neither are in jeopardy, Rundquist said.

"We're doing fine. We're probably one of the lucky ones around here," he said.

In Mercersburg, Pa., water use has fallen by about 20 percent since Ridge declared the water emergency.

Borough Manager Jim Leventry said water use always decreases in the summer because the town's largest customer - Mercersburg Academy - is out of session.

"It's kind of hard for us to tell in the summer," he said.

Leventry said the borough's reservoir is about 3 or 4 inches below normal. But he said rain last weekend helped.

"It's not a big concern right now," he said.

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