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Quarries offering water to farmers

August 23, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Virginia company locked in a water dispute with the Blairton community has offered Eastern Panhandle farmers free untreated water from the company's two Berkeley County quarries.

Farmers struggling to cope with the drought can pick up all the water they can haul from Riverton Corp.'s two water load-out stations at the Capitol Cement quarry in Martinsburg and the Blair Quarry in Blairton, Riverton Vice President Bruce Jolly said.

The company has a large supply of untreated water at both quarries that it uses to spray on roads for dust control, Jolly said.

The water being offered by Riverton is water the company pumps from its quarries during the excavation process, Jolly said.

Jolly was unsure how much water the company has to offer but said it should be enough to satisfy the needs of farmers in the Eastern Panhandle and Virginia.

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At least three farmers picked up water from Capitol Cement on Monday and the USDA Farm Service Agency in Martinsburg has also been contacted about the water, Jolly said.

Farmers must provide their own containers to haul the water from the quarries and must sign an agreement promising not to resell the water, Jolly said.

"We don't want anyone getting rich off an emergency situation," Jolly said.

Farmers who want to pick up the free water must call the quarries ahead of time, Jolly said.

Capitol Cement in Martinsburg is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays and can be reached at 304-267-8966.

The Riverton site at Blair Quarry is open from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. until noon Saturdays and can be reached at 304-267-5977.

Riverton has been in mediation with about 40 Blairton residents to try and settle a dispute over the company's decision to stop supplying water to homes near the Blairton Quarry.

The company has said it doesn't want the responsibility of providing water for the area, and homeowners say they will be forced to move if their water supply is stopped.

Area lawmakers have suggested a plan that would use state funds to tap into a water line from a nearby public service district but no decisions have been made, Jolly said.

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