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Rainfall helps boost Pa. reservoirs

April 17, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Above-average rainfall in the last few weeks has bolstered water supplies around Franklin County, but officials are still urging residents to keep conserving.

"It has helped on the surface, but as far as the water table, not yet," said Dennis Monn, Franklin County Drought Task Force manager.

April has brought 2.12 inches of rain - with more than half of that on Sunday, said Jerry Ashway, a Chambersburg weather observer.

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He said precipitation by this time of the month is normally 1.88 inches, while April's average monthly rainfall is 3.52 inches.

Weekend rains pushed up levels in Waynesboro's reservoir.

"Our reservoir supply is on the upswing from the recent rains. But it is a short-term fix, I think," said S. Leiter Pryor, director of public utilities for Waynesboro.

The reservoir was 8 feet 2 inches below the spillway Tuesday, but it was down as low as 15 feet 4 inches last month, he said.

Pryor said he is concerned about what could happen in late summer if rainfall doesn't pick up.

"Our reservoir has always been full. We're in uncharted territory," he said.

He said the borough has not had to implement its water restriction plan, and residents have cut water consumption between 10 and 15 percent.

n The heavy rains Sunday filled up the Greencastle reservoir for the first time in months, Borough Manager Kenneth Myers said.

At its lowest point, the 13-million gallon reservoir was 22 inches below the spillway, he said.

"We're still asking everyone to be cautious. We don't want them to be deceived by recent rains," he said.

n In Chambersburg, the reservoir is down 17 feet from the spillway, but has gained 18 inches from the rain over the last few weeks.

Chambersburg officials have said the borough still has about a 10-month water supply on hand.

n Mont Alto Borough has seen an 8-foot drop in its groundwater in the last 41 days, said Ed Nunemaker, water works operator and maintenance supervisor.

"It's a concern, but not at a critical state," he said of the water system's well.

Last month the borough cut back the pumping rate from 110 gallons a minute to 64 gallons, he said.

"We're at a point now it appears it may be leveling off and stop declining," he said.

The recent rain, however, has not been significant enough to have an effect on the groundwater, he said.

Ashway said the next chance for rain is later today as a cold front moves into the area bringing possible thunderstorms.

Monn said the region still faces a 10-inch to 12-inch deficit of rainfall.

"We're still asking for conservation. I don't want anyone to get the feeling we are out of the woods because we're not," he said. "When we get beyond this month there could be major problems again."

He also urged residents to use extreme caution with open burning.

The countywide burn ban was lifted Thursday at midnight. Some municipalities permanently prohibit open burning and others have added new restrictions, but Monn said residents should make sure all open burns are attended.

"We don't want to waste water on a fire" caused by open burning, he said.

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