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Waynesboro eyes water rationing

February 21, 2002

Waynesboro eyes water rationing



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Customers of the Waynesboro public water system may face water rationing that would cut use by 25 percent, the director of borough utilities said Wednesday.

S. Leiter Pryor said the water level in the reservoir that supplies the system has been dropping at the rate of 1 inch per day.

As of Wednesday, the level was 14 feet, 5 inches below the spillway, the lowest it's been since the 150-million-gallon reservoir was built in 1958, Pryor said.

The reservoir, about 10 miles from Waynesboro off Old Forge Road in Michaux State Forest, was built by damming up the East Branch of the Antietam Creek.

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"This is the worst I've seen it. I am really worried unless we get some rain soon," Pryor said Wednesday. "I'm not trying to sound optimistic or pessimistic, just honest."

Pryor said there are from 53 million to 55 million gallons of water in the reservoir now.

According to a plan on the books for the Waynesboro Borough Authority, the agency that runs the utility, an emergency rationing order can be put into effect when the level in the reservoir drops below an 80-day supply.

Pryor said that level has not been reached, but it could be soon if there is no rain to recharge the reservoir.

The authority will meet Monday night at 6 p.m. to decide its next steps, he said.

The authority has to get permission from the drought emergency coordinators of the Franklin County Commissioners and state Department of Environmental Protection before any rationing order could take effect, Pryor said.

Normal use for the borough's water customers is 60 to 62 gallons a day per person. Rationing would cut that to 40 gallons a day.

Restrictions already in place have helped, Pryor said.

"The amount of water leaving the reservoir is down by 150,000 gallons a day," he said. "That shows that the customers are listening to us and we appreciate that."

Residents can cut water use by such simple steps as taking shorter showers, shutting off faucets when brushing teeth or shaving, using dishwashers and washing machines only when they are full and checking pipes for leaks, he said.

The authority also would consider an emergency rate hike if the borough had to buy water from other sources, Pryor said.

A well that once served the Zullinger water system, now part of Waynesboro, was shut down in 1997 because of high nitrates. Pryor said it could be put back into service as an emergency supply once it was reconnected to a chlorination system.

An unusual situation that had until Wednesday given the authority cause for concern was a newspaper report that footprints from a "Bigfoot-like" hominoid were found by some local residents at the north end of the reservoir.

Pryor said the authority has asked the Pennsylvania State Police, Department of Natural Resources and Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission officers to patrol the reservoir.

"People were coming up there to see the tracks. There were about 30 people there over yesterday. We're worried about crowds impacting the water quality or the dam," he said.

When he came to work Wednesday he found big white paper footprints on the carpeted floor of his office in the Borough Hall. He said employees in the engineering department next door put them down as a joke.

Asked his opinion of the footprints at the reservoir, Pryor rolled his eyes. "I really don't know. It seems pretty far-fetched."

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