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Chambersburg officials say water supply is OK for now

March 22, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg officials believe the borough has a 300-day supply of water on hand, which means it will be months before they would have to implement a water rationing plan.

"We have a drought contingency plan. It is not finalized, but we have submitted the first draft to the state," Borough Manager Eric Oyer said.

He said questions remain on what the plan's impact would be on residential and commercial water users and how to penalize those who use excessive amounts of water.

Franklin County, Pa., residents have been asked to follow the water restrictions that went in place when the governor declared a drought emergency for 24 Pennsylvania counties, but each restriction has multiple exceptions.

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Under the Department of Environmental Protection guidelines, residents can't wash their own car with a hose, but an exception allows people to take their cars to a commercial car wash, which uses recycled water.

"With the (proposed) water rationing plan, all exceptions would go by the wayside," Oyer said. Some exemptions might be granted if the restrictions create an economic hardship, he said.

Based on estimates by the borough's engineering consultants, Gannett Fleming, the borough has a 300-day supply of water.

"Forty percent of usable storage is still available," Oyer said.

But five months from now if drought conditions persist, the borough will be down to 24 percent capacity, and officials will have to make a decision on implementing a water rationing plan.

This week the Long Pine Dam, which creates the borough's main reservoir, was 18.5 feet below the spillway, down 6 inches from last week, Oyer said. It is projected it will be down 36 feet in 150 days if drought conditions persist.

Oyer said the borough doesn't want to jump in too quickly with a mandatory water rationing plan.

"We don't want to do it too soon because of the burden it would cause to customers," he said.

Oyer said the borough is conserving water by keeping its five fountains turned off and searching for leaks in the water system.

"Hopefully we'll never get to (implement) a drought restriction plan," Oyer said.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Carl Rundquist said borough water customers showed an 8 percent reduction in water usage in February, which was significant because the drought emergency was not declared until Feb. 12.

The borough also intends to fill its community pool in Memorial Park with water "blown off" from the water transmission main under construction, Oyer said.

The line is nearly completed and a chlorinated water solution will be pushed through to clean and clear the main, according to Elwood Sord, assistant water and sewer superintendent.

That water will be siphoned to the community pool and treated so the pool can be used this summer, he said. Ordinarily, that water would run off into the sewer system.

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