Berkeley County looks for new water sources

February 15, 2002

Berkeley County looks for new water sources

Martinsburg, W.Va.

By SARAH MULLIN / Staff Writer, Martinsburg

The eight members of the Berkeley County Public Service Water District Board at a special meeting Thursday approved five priorities for finding new water sources that they hope will help ease the water shortage facing the county.

"I know there is water here. It is a matter of how to get it, get it tested, and out to customers," Paul Fisher, executive director of the Public Service Water District, said.

The Berkeley County Water District has about 13,000 connections, serving 30,000 people, Fisher said.

Those users have been asked to voluntarily conserve water.

The county's main water sources include the Potomac River, and Ben Spreck and Le Fever springs. Officials have said the springs are low.


The board came up with a list of five priorities that will provide new water sources and finance the use of those sources. The priorities call for:

-- Asking the state of Maryland, which is responsible for the Potomac River, to increase the amount of water Berkeley County can draw from the Potomac River.

-- Reactivating a well along W.Va. 9 that is capable of pumping 250 gallons per minute. It was taken out of commission in 1997 because the well water came into contact with surface water.

The board will use the well only when needed, and is required to notify the public of the possible contamination of the water.

-- Using discharged water from the Inwood quarry, which is about one mile from the district's water treatment plant. The plan is to lay an above-ground line for short-term use and later to place an underground line.

-- Conducting a hydrogeologic study that will help find untapped water sources in the county.

-- Using two rate adjustment plans to pass on to the customers any extraordinary costs. The plans are used only when the county needs to purchase emergency water.

The board hopes to establish a line of credit with a financial institution so it can begin implementing the priorities.

Martinsburg will sell the county Public Service Water District up to 1 million gallons of water a day at the cost of $100,000 a month. Currently, the board purchases 200,000 gallons a day.

The county does not have the money to increase the amount of water purchased to that extent, board Chairman Bill Alexander said.

"This is a desperate situation for us," board member Howard Collins said.

He said the board should ask U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., for financial help.

The board also decided Thursday it will not provide water to developers in Jefferson County.

Developer Ken Lowe has requested that 122 homes in the Quail Ridge development be supplied with water, and the board suspects other developers and businesses also will request water.

"We can't supply water to our own county so we can't supply it to them," Alexander said.

The water district board approved modifications to the Drought Contingency Plan.

In Stage 1 of the plan, customers will be asked to voluntarily restrict water use.

In Stage 2, mandatory water-use restrictions will be implemented. The modified plan will allow new connections to continue, and developers whose application for water main extensions were approved before the implementation of the plan will be allowed to continue.

In Stage 3, water will be rationed.

The board is waiting for the West Virginia Public Service Commission to approve the plan.

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