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Tougher water restrictions in place

February 12, 2002

Tougher water restrictions in place



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


MONT ALTO, Pa. - A boil-water advisory and tougher new restrictions on use have been put in place for the 650 customers of the Mont Alto public water system following a weekend incident that sent sediment into the pipes.

News that the water had become muddy came to light at a Monday afternoon emergency meeting of the Mont Alto Borough Authority, which manages the system.

In addition to the boil advisory, authority members voted to put new restrictions into effect immediately. The restrictions, among other things, ban all nonessential uses such as watering lawns, washing cars and providing water in restaurants only at a customer's requests.

The authority also has stopped selling water to private water haulers who in turn sell it to the hundreds of residents whose homes are served by cisterns.

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The 35,000 gallons a day the haulers buy brings in about $50,000 a year in income for the authority, Borough Secretary Patty Kocek said.

Authority members suspect that the ongoing drought is at least partially to blame for the silt in the well. Water from the well is pumped to a reservoir about 11/2 miles up the mountain east of town. A spring, known as Pearl of the Park, also feeds the reservoir.

"Something changed that caused a lot of silt to be pumped into the well," said P. Edward Nunemaker Jr., manager of the system. "We suspect that it's the low ground water table because we have never run into this condition before."

One theory is that when the water table dropped, the pump drew water with the silt from a new underground cavity.

The water was tested for coliform and other forms of bacteria and found to be safe, Nunemaker said. The boil-water advisory was put into place as a precautionary measure. Several authority members said Monday that they have been drinking the water without boiling it.

The advisory could be lifted as soon as Wednesday after two more samples are tested, Nunemaker said.

The muddy water problem was solved by reducing the amount pumped from the well from 110 gallons-per-minute to 64 gallons-per minute, Nunemaker said.

The lower rate allows the system to maintain an adequate supply, he said.

The authority members also voted to finish construction of their newest well as soon as possible to add another supply of water for the system.

Daryl Crider, owner of Crider's Water Service in St. Thomas, Pa., said it is getting harder for haulers to find sources of water. The public water system that serves Greencastle, Pa., also has stopped selling water to haulers.

"That only leaves us with Chambersburg and Waynesboro," Crider said.

S. Leiter Pryor, superintendent of Waynesboro's public water system, said that system is having drought problems of its own. The reservoir that serves the system is down 13 feet, nine inches from the top. Two weeks ago the level was down 13 feet, two inches. "It's at a critical level now," he said.

Pryor said the Waynesboro Borough Authority will meet next week to discuss tighter restrictions for the system's 12,500 users.

Greencastle's reservoir is down by a foot, said Borough Manager Kenneth Myers. Customers are being asked to follow the state's recommendation for a voluntary 10 percent reduction.

Production from the spring and the well supplying the reservoir is down by half, Myers said. "We're getting enough to supply our daily demand, but there's no extra."

"We're trying to work with the boroughs," Crider said. "Ours is the only source of water for all those people with cisterns."

He said haulers have to travel farther for water and that makes the service more expensive.

"My advice to all of you is to go home and pray for rain," William Barnes, chairman of the Mont Alto Borough Authority, told the members Monday.

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