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Waynesboro residents asked to conserve water

January 23, 2002

Waynesboro residents asked to conserve water



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The water level at the reservoir that serves borough residents has dropped below 13 feet for the first time in 11 years, a level that is beginning to worry S. Leiter Pryor, director of utilities for the borough.

Borough officials are asking residents to voluntarily cut back on their water use by about 10 percent until the crisis is over.

The lack of rain throughout the fall and winter and the limited snowfall this winter is being blamed for the low water levels, Pryor said.

The borough draws its water from the East Branch of Antietam Creek. There's an intake near the water treatment plant on Rattlesnake Run Road, Pryor said.

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In the 1950s, the borough built a 150-million-gallon reservoir by damming up the headwaters of the East Branch on South Mountain in Michaux State Forest. "We control the headwaters," Pryor said.

Part of the reservoir is in Adams County, Pa.

The borough manipulates a valve on the dam to maintain flow in the creek when the water level drops below the spillway, he said. The treatment plant is about 12 miles downstream from the dam.

Pryor, who has worked for the borough for 11 years, said he has never seen the level at the dam as low as it was Tuesday, 13 feet, 2 inches from the top. "I saw it down to 12 feet (from the top) once, but never this low," he said.

Asked if he considered the low level to be serious, Pryor said he didn't know how to answer that question.

"We're in uncharted territory here," he said. "Normally the reservoir is filling up this time of year. We'll need significant snow melt this spring to recharge the groundwater and the reservoir."

The borough's water system serves 12,500 users, he said.

The borough is following the state Department of Environmental Protection's order for a drought warning in 31 South Central Pennsylvania counties. Franklin and Fulton counties are included, Kristen Wolf, DEP spokeswoman in Harrisburg, Pa., said Tuesday.

A drought warning asks residents to voluntarily cut back on their water usage by 10 percent to 15 percent, Wolf said.

That could involve measures as simple as shutting water off while brushing teeth and shaving, using dishwashers and washing machines only when full and taking shorter showers.

Wolf said a lot of water can be saved by repairing dripping faucets. "A faucet dripping one drop of water per second wastes 2,700 gallons a year," she said.

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