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County customers under mandatory water restrictions

February 26, 2002|By SARAH MULLIN

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Customers of the Berkeley County Public Service District must abide by mandatory water conservation measures.

The Berkeley County Public Service District Board unanimously approved the mandatory restrictions during its bi-monthly meeting Monday night.

Board Chairman Bill Alexander said it was a difficult decision to make.

The district has 13,000 connections that serve about 30,000 people.

The decision was made after Paul Fisher, executive director of the Public Service District, reported to the board that the precipitation level is at a deficit, production at LeFever Springs continues to drop and pumping water from Baker Lakes quarries has resulted in a lowering of the water level to 25 feet below normal. He said production at Ben Spec Spring continues to decrease and the amount of water supplied from the Potomac River Plant is increased.

Fisher said the water supply from the Baker Lakes quarries will be used up within about 10 days.

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"If you want to see a scary sight, go to the quarry," board member Bill Stubblefield said. "In the last month and a half there has been a radical decrease. It is severe."

During a time of plenty the quarry is used as a reservoir.

Customers are prohibited from nonessential water uses such as washing streets, noncommercial washing of motor vehicles, serving water in restaurants unless requested, and watering lawns or golf courses.

Residents who do not follow the measures will be given a warning by Service District employees, Fisher said.

To make up for the 770,000 gallons a day currently pumped from the quarries the district will increase the amount purchased from the City of Martinsburg by 350,000 gallons a day for a total of 750,000 gallons - the maximum amount the county plants can pump, according to Fisher.

The county is allowed to pump 1 million gallons a day if needed from the city's supply.

A dormant well on W.Va. 9 may be used. It can supply 100,000 gallons a day. Even with the two supplies, the county is in a 300,000-gallon shortfall, Fisher said.

Fisher and board member Howard Collins met with D.L. Morgan, owner of a quarry in Inwood, to ask if the county can use the water that is pumped out of the quarry.

The water is pumped into Mill Creek at a rate of about 400 gallons a minute.

Morgan agreed to allow the Service District to use the water for 18 months. Pipes will be laid above ground leading from the creek to the Bunker Hill treatment facility about one mile away.

The district is required by the Health Department to conduct a complete water analysis of the water before using it.

During the Feb. 14 special meeting held to deal with water scarcity, the board voted against supplying water to the portion of Ken Lowe's subdivision, Quail Ridge, in Jefferson County.

Lowe, along with his engineer, asked the board to reconsider its decision Monday night.

Lowe said that before the 2001 merger of the three districts that previously served county residents, he was granted a water availability statement granting him the water for that portion of the subdivision.

The board went into executive session at which the district's attorney, Hoy Shingleton, said later that he told the board that during merging, the commitments of the predecessors must be honored. The district board decided to revoke its denial and honor the water availability agreement given to Lowe in 2000. The board added that no more water will be supplied to Jefferson County if requested until the water shortage is over.

The approval of new water main extensions will be also discontinued.

he five priorities developed during the Feb. 14 meeting - a filtration system for the W.Va. 9 well, a request to pump more water from the Potomac and upgrade the water treatment plant, use of the water from Morgan's quarry in Inwood, a north-south interconnection at W.Va. 45 and the conduction of a hydrogeologic study to find new wells - is estimated to cost the county $6.8 million, Alexander said.

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