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Drought task force likely won't lift burn ban early

March 22, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Despite recent rainy weather, emergency officials don't expect the countywide burn ban to be lifted early.

"Eight of 11 fire chiefs I contacted said to leave the burn ban in place," Dennis Monn, Emergency Management coordinator and chairman of the Franklin County Drought Management Task Force, said Thursday.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved the burn ban earlier this month at the request of the district forester and the majority of the county's fire chiefs.

It is scheduled to remain in effect until April 5.

"If in a couple of days we don't get more rain we will be in the same position again," Monn told the members of the task force.

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Monn said the recent wet weather, including 1.09 inches of rain that fell in Chambersburg Wednesday, prompted discussion over whether the county should lift the ban.

"There is no reason it can't be rescinded but with the results from fire chiefs, I doubt it will be," Monn said.

He said it would create more confusion for residents to lift the ban and then have to reinstate it quickly if rain doesn't fall.

The ban prohibits outdoor burning of garbage, leaves, grass, twigs, litter, paper, vegetative matter involved with land clearing or any other sort of debris in either a barrel or fire ring on the ground.

Pennsylvania State Police and all municipal police officers can enforce the ban, which includes a $100 fine for first-time offenders.

Violators of the ban face a $200 fine for the second offense and $300 fine for the third and subsequent offenses.

- With water levels in the county's reservoirs reaching record lows and dozens of private wells running dry, the task force is continuing to spread the message to conserve water.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, water quality specialists from Penn State University will offer a program to help homeowners manage their private water systems to ensure safe and adequate drinking water, said George Hurd, a representative of the Penn State Extension office in Franklin County.

Hurd said nearly one-third of county residents rely on wells for their water.

Homeowners typically neglect water supply management until obvious water quality or quantity problems occur, Hurd said.

The program will be conducted live via satellite around the state. Topics will include common water quality problems, water testing, system maintenance and water treatment, he said. The drought and how to manage a private water supply to conserve water also will be discussed.

The program will run from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Franklin County Extension Office, 191 Franklin Farm Lane, Chambersburg.

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