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Shepherdstown residents asked to conserve water

July 20, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - A lack of rainfall this summer prompted the Shepherdstown Water Department on Friday to ask customers to voluntarily conserve water.

Other public utility providers said Friday they might follow suit if dry conditions continue much longer.

"We went all winter with very little precipitation, really," said Chris Hutzler, assistant superintendent of Shepherdstown's water department.

Water levels in the town's storage tanks have dropped dramatically this summer because of recent high usage, which has caused intermittent pressure problems for customers, Hutzler said.

"We got a lot of people out here watering lawns," said Hutzler, who is asking for customers to reduce outdoor uses, including washing vehicles.

After fielding concerns from customers about "cloudy" water over the past several weeks, Hutzler said the department will begin a systemwide hydrant flushing project to remove sediment in the system.

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During the system flushing project, which is expected to take about a month, the town's more than 3,000 customers might find their water to be "cloudy" or "dirty," Hutzler said. If customers experience such conditions, they should let their faucets run until the water is clear again, which should take less than 30 minutes, Hutzler said.

In Harpers Ferry, W.Va., Mayor James. A. Addy said water flow from Elk Run still was adequate for the town and the neighboring municipality of Bolivar, W.Va.

But if there is no rainfall by the end of next week, Addy said Harpers Ferry Water Works might have to consider what action to take, including switching the water intake to the Potomac River.

Paul Fisher, executive director of the Berkeley County Public Service Water District, said the district consistently asks customers to conserve water, but it might be forced to issue a conservation request if the drought continues.

"If it stays dry for another month, we probably will ..." said Fisher, who believed the precipitation deficit for the county now is about 4 inches.

Stephen M. Knipe, utilities director for the City of Martinsburg (W.Va.), said the city's spring-fed water supply was OK, but officials have seen some "droppage" in volume at Kilmer Springs off North Tennessee Avenue.

The volume at Big Springs, the city's other source of water south of Martinsburg, has increased, but if the drought continues, Knipe expected a conservation effort would be launched.

Charles Town (W.Va.) City Clerk Joe Consentini said town officials have not issued any water conservation advisories for their utility department's 5,000 or so customers, which include residents of the neighboring town of Ranson, W.Va.

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