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Pa. water use is restricted

February 13, 2002

Pa. water use is restricted



By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


Pennsylvania Gov. Mark S. Schweiker on Tuesday declared a drought emergency for 24 counties in the state, including Franklin and Fulton.

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The drought emergency declaration affects counties mainly in the southern and eastern regions of the state.

Residents of counties with the drought emergency designation are being asked to reduce their daily water consumption by at least 15 percent, a step that prohibits all nonessential water use.

Low rainfall last summer and fall and little snow so far this winter have caused record-low stream and groundwater levels, Schweiker said.

Nonessential water-use restrictions prohibit operating ornamental water fountains, watering lawns, washing cars or serving water in restaurants unless requested by customers, according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

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"I urge all Pennsylvanians to do their part to conserve water in every way they can," Schweiker said. "If conditions do not improve, and we do not work together to conserve water, we could face the worst drought in our state's history by spring."

Seven counties remain under a drought warning and 31 are under a drought watch.

Water wells are running dry in the region, and low water levels likely caused silt to infiltrate Mont Alto Borough's water system over the weekend. The reservoir serving Waynesboro is down 13 feet, 9 inches from the top, and Greencastle's reservoir is a foot below normal levels, officials said.

Chambersburg's reservoir is 16 feet below the spillway, or about 60 percent capacity, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said Tuesday night.

He said this is probably the borough's greatest shortage of water since the Long Pine Dam was built.

"Had the state not acted we would have gone ahead with prohibitions soon," Oyer said.

The current drought began last summer and a drought watch was declared in August. A drought emergency is the most severe of the three drought declarations.

"We're hearing it's a very serious problem and could take quite a while to come out of," said Jerry Flasher, director of Franklin County Emergency Services.

Drought emergencies have been declared in parts of Pennsylvania in five of the last seven years, Schweiker said.

Under the declaration, each county must have a Drought Task Force that will meet at least monthly and submit status reports to the commonwealth drought coordinator.

Franklin County Commissioner G. Warren Elliott said the county is organizing its task force as quickly as possible and will appoint members Thursday.

The county has named Dennis Monn, Emergency Management coordinator, and Phil Tarquino, county planning director, to chair the task force, which will include representatives from the following: Franklin County Emergency Services, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Penn State Extension Office, the Bear Valley Water Authority, the Franklin County Townships Association, area health officials, the Franklin County Fire Chiefs Association, area law enforcement, the Franklin County Area Development Corporation and the boroughs of Chambersburg, Waynesboro and Shippensburg.

Pennsylvania officials recommend residents conserve water by:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Replacing old toilets with new 1.6 gallon-per-flush models, which could save a typical household from 7,900 to 21,700 gallons of water per year;

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Placing a plastic jug of water or commercial "dam" in older toilet tanks to cut down on amount of water needed for each flush, which can save more than 1,000 gallons per year;

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Repairing dripping faucets and leaking toilets. A faucet dripping at one drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons per year;

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Washing clothes and dishes only when there is a full load.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Turning off the water when brushing teeth or shaving, which can save more than five gallons per day.

Pennsylvania State Police and all local law enforcement officials can enforce the various water-use restrictions.

Violation of these mandatory nonessential water uses is a summary offense. Anyone convicted can be sentenced to pay a fine of up to $200 or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days or both, for the first offense, and a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment of up to 90 days or both, for each subsequent offense.

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