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Town looks to ease water woes

August 30, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MONT ALTO, Pa. - A sign across from the Mont Alto Borough Hall building tells passers-by that the water level in the well that feeds the borough's public water system dropped more than a foot in the week between Aug. 19 and Aug. 26.

"Everyone's conserving water," said Ed Nunemaker, superintendent of the borough's water system. "We're holding our own and all this rain we just had can only be a good thing. We hope the sign reminds people that they still need to conserve."

Nunemaker said he installed the sign about a month ago. "People take things for granted, but the drought is an ongoing thing. We're still under a drought warning. There's been a steady decline in the water level in the well. It's been dropping by about a foot a week in the last month-and-a-half."

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Mont Alto, like all of Franklin and Fulton counties and dozens of other Pennsylvania counties, are under a state-ordered conservation mandate to cut water use by 15 percent.

Under the mandate, lawns cannot be watered with hoses, and cars can only be washed every other week, Nunemaker said.

He said the borough tried to get a second well on line this summer but the water in it never cleared up. "It didn't pan out," he said.

A third well was drilled and struck water Wednesday. "Once it's on line, our little crunch will be over," he said.

If the drought continues and the water storage capacity is depleted the borough has an agreement with the Franklin County General Authority to haul water from there, Nunemaker said.

Another concern, Nunemaker said, was the reopening this week of the Penn State Mont Alto campus for the fall term. He estimates that the college uses about 20,000 gallons of water a day. "We're pulling together figures now to find out what they're actually using," he said.

Todd Toth, a National Weather Service observer in Waynesboro, Pa., said Thursday that the total rainfall in August, 2.98 inches, fell just below the 3.4 inches that usually falls in that month.

Just about all of it fell on Friday and Wednesday, he said.

"We still have a long way to go, but it is nice to see things turning green again," Toth said.

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