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Pa. townships' water rates up 35 percent

December 09, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

ST. THOMAS, PA. - The Bear Valley Water Authority approved a rate hike Wednesday night that will result in a 35 percent increase in water bills for its customers in 2005.

The authority provides water to 4,000 customers in Hamilton, St. Thomas and Peters townships in Franklin County, Pa.

The higher rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2005.

The authority decided not to raise the fee for tapping into the system, which will remain $3,600.

No one spoke against the rates at the meeting.

According to authority manager Bob John, the current minimum charge is $16.10 per month for up to 2,500 gallons of water. The new rate will be $21.75.

For the next 23,500 gallons, customers now pay $5.13 per 1,000 gallons. That will increase to $6.93 per 1,000 gallons.

For more than 26,000 gallons per month, the current charge is $1.31 per 1,000 gallons. That will increase to $1.77 per 1,000 gallons.

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Board member C. Wayne Henry said that several years ago the authority was given a $15 million grant to build a dam, but was stopped by the Pennsylvania Fish Commission.

"That set us back seven years," Henry said. "That would have taken this end of the county into the middle of the century with their water supply. The people who are screaming now (about the rate increase), where were they when the Fish Commission stopped the dam? $21.75 is still a bargain."

Projects that will be funded by the rate increase include the Broad Run treatment plant near Fort Loudon, Pa., and distribution system upgrades in Hamilton Township.

"The DEP has given us a specific amount of time to get certain things done - to get more water into the system and to be able to move that water from one area to another. We don't know where we will be moving the water from or to," since negotiations with the Borough of Chambersburg are incomplete, John said.

"There has been a moratorium on new subdivisions since October 2002, but the board allowed people to hook on who they'd committed to previously," John said.

A consent order of Nov. 15 stated that no one may tap into the system unless they had a building permit prior to that date, John said.

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