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Rain helps some in Franklin County

March 28, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - It's been months since the level at the 13-million-gallon reservoir supplying the Greencastle public water system was only 9 inches below the spillway.

Recent rains raised the water level in the reservoir, which is fed by three springs and two wells, by more than a foot from where it was in early March, said Greencastle Borough Manager Kenneth Myers.

"This will be short-lived," Myers said. "We'll be back to where we were without significantly more rain. We're far behind on total rainfall."

He urged Greencastle-area residents to continue conservation efforts.

The State of Pennsylvania put a drought-emergency plan in effect in 23 counties, including Franklin and Fulton, calling for a voluntary 10 percent reduction in water consumption.

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Recent rains helped to raise the level in the reservoir that serves the Borough of Waynesboro, Pa., but officials in that community say they are still worried.

"We'll be having problems until it overflows again," said Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger. "It's not time to throw a party. We still have a big deficit in rainfall."

Hamberger said he is encouraged that the level in the reservoir, which is supplied by streams that make up the headwaters of the West Branch of Antietam Creek, has gone up.

He visited the reservoir Wednesday and said it had gone up several inches.

In February, the driest month for the Waynesboro area since records started being kept in 1895, the level in the reservoir had dropped nearly 15 feet below the spillway.

Conditions in Waynesboro got so bad that the Borough Council, on a recommendation from the Waynesboro Borough Authority, the agency that runs the public water system, voted to have a rationing plan ready to put into effect immediately if things got worse. So far the plan has stayed on the shelf.

Todd Toth, a Waynesboro weather observer, said only .31 inches of rain fell in all of February.

Toth said the area's rainfall over the last year, until the recent rains, was nearly 25 inches short of what normally falls. "We're already 4 inches short for January and February," he said.

So far, March has done much better.

A normal rainfall for the area in March is 3.5 inches, he said. This month so far 3.42 inches have fallen with more possibly in the forecast for the coming weekend.

Toth said the National Weather Service is predicting showers for Friday, Saturday and early Sunday.

"We still have a big-time problem. The groundwater is not being recharged," he said.

The public water system supplying the Mercersburg area has not seen the problems neighboring townships and boroughs have felt, said Paul Sharrow, superintendent of the system there.

"We have plenty of water. The dam has been overflowing all winter and I don't know why," he said. "We've had 2 1/2 inches of rain around here in the last week-and-a-half. I've never seen the creeks around here so high."

Officials in the Borough of Mont Alto, which urged residents to boil water for a few days in February, said Tuesday conditions are okay.

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