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Shuster announces $390,000 water grant

January 06, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

During the public debate over rezoning of 1,025 acres of mostly farmland to residential and commercial zoning, a number of Washington Township residents raised the question of where the water for an additional 1,400 or more houses would come from.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th, announced a federal grant of $390,000 toward the development of an additional water source and the first interconnection of the Washington Township Municipal Authority and Waynesboro Borough Authority water systems. The total project cost is approximately $520,000, according to township figures.

"When I became a board member of WTMA 10 years ago, the only thing that Waynesboro and WTMA could agree on concerning water was to disagree," said Jeff Geesaman, chairman of the township municipal authority.

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Geesaman said the 2002 drought could have posed serious problems for the township and borough in the case of a line break or major fire. He said the grant will allow the township to develop what is known as the Hess well site off Old Forge Road, producing an additional 400,000 gallons a day, and connect it with the borough's transmission main from its reservoir.

The interconnection will allow either system to assist the other in case of a prolonged drought or other water shortage, Geesaman said.

Shuster said the borough's reservoir reached an all-time low in 2002 and the borough was unsuccessful in attempts to locate another water source. He said the interconnection will support the residential and commercial development projected to occur in the township in upcoming years.

"In addition to providing emergency water, the interconnect will support any request that the Waynesboro Industrial Development Corp. would receive for the development of the Wharf Road Industrial Park," Shuster said.

The industrial park is in the Zullinger, Pa., area of the township, but would be supplied by the borough under an intergovernmental agreement reached a few years ago, according to Leiter Pryor, the borough's director of utilities.

The balance of the funding for the interconnection has yet to be determined, according to Gene Barnhart, manager of the township municipal authority.

What is known as the Hess well, Barnhart said, was identified as a potential water source for the township in 1992. Development was expected to take up to 20 years, but the drought "made us more aware of the limitations of the system."

Beside proposed development in the township, Barnhart noted that a large residential project also is proposed for the borough. He said the well has been developed, but the grant will allow the township and borough to proceed with developing other aspects of the project, which he predicted will take about a year to complete.

Major portions of the project include the interconnecting water main, the well house, utility services and an access road to the well site, and modifying the township's Brookdale well site, according to information supplied by the township.

Waynesboro's water system has about 8,600 connections serving about 13,000 people, according to Pryor. The township system has approximately 2,300 connections, Barnhart said.

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