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Quarries tapped for farm relief

August 17, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

Washington County quarries and fire companies will come to the aid of farmers whose wells have gone dry or who need water to irrigate crops under a county drought plan being hammered out.

The plan is to establish a hotline that farmers can call when they need water for their farms.

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The county would than ask the nearest Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association company to use fire trucks with tanks to haul water to the farms.

All of the companies probably will participate but representtatives want to discuss logistics at a meeting Thursday night, said association Administrative Planner Robert Cumberland.

"Everyone's been very cooperative across the board. Everybody just wants to get through this," County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

All five quarry companies contacted in the county have agreed to give water to farmers, as long as no logistical problems occur, said county Farmland Preservation Administrator Eric Seifarth, who has been coordinating the plan.

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Most of the association's vehicles can carry only about 1,500 to 2,000 gallons of water, he said. It is too early to speculate on how much water might have to be hauled to farms, he said.

H.B. Mellott Estates Inc., based in Warfordsburg, Pa., has voluntarily reduced its water usage by 30 percent and wants to help out the county and farmers by providing water, said company spokeswoman Bronwyn Weaver.

"We just want to make sure we are doing the right thing," she said.

Gerald Ditto, a Clear Spring-area farmer and president of the Washington County Farm Bureau, applauded the quarries for agreeing to help.

"I think it is good public relations for the quarries and it helps the farmers," Ditto said.

The quarries sometimes get a "bad rap" from the public but it's great they are willing to help others with the water they have, he said.

Most of the farmers whose wells have gone dry have found other sources, but the county wants to be prepared in case the situation gets worse, Seifarth said.

For more information call Seifarth at 301-791-3065.

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