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Spring suddenly goes dry Sunday

January 14, 2002

Spring suddenly goes dry Sunday



Hedgesville, W.Va.

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


A spring that has provided water to the Hedgesville, W.Va., area for 26 years suddenly went dry Sunday, and county water officials asked fire departments not to use hydrants in the area to conserve water.

Despite the fact the spring was flowing again, officials were keeping emergency procedures in place until they were sure the spring would not go dry again, said Bill Alexander, chairman of the Berkeley County Public Service District.

The incident began Sunday when a worker at the county water system noticed the spring had gone dry, Alexander said.

"It kind of looks like something happened underground. I've never seen that spring dry," said Bob Wise, ambulance chief for the Hedgesville Volunteer Fire Department.

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Until they can get a handle on the problem, officials have asked fire departments not to use any fire hydrants from Hedgesville High School west to the Morgan County line, Wise said.

Any fire departments fighting fires in the area will have to use tankers to transport water to fires, Wise said.

Alexander said he did not believe any of the estimated 14,000 customers that rely on the spring had any major water supply problems over the weekend. When the spring went dry, a water tank was still supplying customers with water, county water and fire officials said.

To boost water pressure for Hedgesville-area customers, officials began pumping water from the Opequon Water District. They were also preparing to begin pumping water out of a pond that was feeding the spring, Alexander said.

Alexander said it's anyone's guess what made the water disappear.

It could be due to the sometimes unexpected water shifts in groundwater systems, Alexander said. The underground water systems in Berkeley County are made up of carbonate rock, and when water comes in contact with it, it creates carbonic acid, Alexander said.

The acid eats through rock structures, which can cause underground streams to shift, Alexander said.

Fire departments will be asked not to use fire hydrants until water officials are sure the spring on Ben Speck's Road, located near Hedgesville High School, does not show any more water disruptions, Alexander said.

Water district officials will continue to look at some long-term ways of insuring a steady source of water for county residents.

One is requesting from the state of Maryland that Berkeley County be allowed to increase the amount of water it can draw from the Potomac River from 1.9 million gallons a day to 4 million gallons a day, Alexander said.

Another source the public service water district is interested in tapping into is a large supply of groundwater in the Blairton area, which is off W.Va. 45 just east of Martinsburg.

Before the spring began recharging Sunday, county water officials were concerned that boosting the Hedgesville area's water supply with water from the Opequon Water District could cause low water pressure for customers served by that system, Alexander said.

They were particularly concerned about low water pressure problems that could have been caused in the Fairfield subdivision, which is located off Stribling Road off W.Va. 9 near the General Motors parts plant, Alexander said.

Before the spring began recharging, officials were prepared to post handbills in the Fairfield subdivision notifying customers that they may experience low water pressure, Alexander said.

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