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Opequon offers neighbors water

August 23, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County water provider has offered to sell a half-million gallons of water daily to two parts of the county that have placed restrictions on water usage.

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The Opequon Public Service District could pump up to 500,000 additional gallons of water each day at its Potomac River Water Plant by increasing operations to 24 hours daily, Opequon General Manager Richard Beegle said.

The water would then be sold at emergency rates to the City of Martinsburg and the Berkeley County Public Service District, Beegle said.

The emergency rate would be set by the Public Service Commission of West Virginia and would likely be about half of Opequon's normal rate, Beegle said.

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Opequon currently sells water for about $4.50 per 1,000 gallons, Beegle said.

While the drought has forced Martinsburg and the Berkeley County Public Service District to place restrictions on water usage, Beegle said Opequon has not had any problems supplying water to its 4,200 customers.

Unlike other water systems in Berkeley County that draw water from springs and quarries, Opequon pumps its water from the Potomac River.

Martinsburg Mayor Earnest Sparks called the Opequon offer "very generous" but said the city currently has no need to purchase water.

Martinsburg ordered emergency water restrictions Aug. 6 after a cracked water line spilled about 2 million gallons of water out of the city's system.

The restrictions have been loosened through a revised rationing plan that goes into effect Monday.

Under the new rules, water usage rules will be lifted for city water customers on the days they receive garbage pickup. The new rules allow residents to wash their cars and water their lawns twice a week.

The mandatory rules for the city's 6,000 water customers will remain in place citywide on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The revised rules are intended to ease the city's water system back into full usage by customers, Sparks said.

"We're in good shape. We just don't want to overload the system," Sparks said.

The Berkeley County Public Service District ordered water restrictions for its 5,500 customers Aug. 9 after Martinsburg stopped selling them water because of the city's water line break.

The city resumed selling the district about 200,000 gallons of water per day last week but is only selling them about half of what it had been selling them in July.

Berkeley County Public Service District Chair Ruby Kern could not be reached for comment on the Opequon offer of emergency water.

The Hedgesville Public Service District has not enacted mandatory restrictions although district manager Taylor Whittington has said rationing is likely if drought conditions do not improve.

Over a 12-month period ending June 30, Berkeley County is about 13 inches below normal for rainfall levels.

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