Hydrant flushing delay sparks debate among supervisors

October 12, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Tempers flared at Wednesday's meeting of the Washington Township Supervisors, who bickered about the postponement of hydrant flushing.

"Are we going to send out Blue Ridge Fire Department not knowing whether the hydrants work?" Supervisor Carroll Sturm asked.

The recommendation to postpone hydrant flushing and flow testing came from Sean McFarland, who became the manager of Washington Township Municipal Authority earlier this year. The WTMA serves most of the township's water needs.

The deferment was recommended to refrain from wasting water, according to Supervisor C. Stewart McCleaf, who, along with Paul Benchoff, represents the supervisors at WTMA meetings.

Flow testing "hasn't been done for the last three years since I've been on the board," Supervisor Christopher Firme said.

The Borough of Waynesboro flushes hydrants annually, he said.

Township Manager Mike Christopher said personnel scheduling caused problems when arranging for flow testing in the past two years.

Christopher, who said he spoke with McFarland, said the main concern was that opening fire hydrants during a dry spell would cause a public relations problem.


"The governor's probably going to come out with a voluntary cutback of water. ... (McFarland) didn't expect a firestorm with this at all," Christopher said.

Sturm criticized the communication of not only this issue, but also the quality of monthly reports.

"How long are we going to give him a 'new guy get out of jail' card?" Sturm asked.

"As long as it takes. ... I think you should give him a chance, Carroll," McCleaf responded, saying that McFarland has tried to be proactive in restoring a hydrant program.

McCleaf encouraged Sturm to go to the WTMA offices and talk to McFarland for clarification of his reasons behind the postponement.

"Every time I go down there, all I get is yelled at," Sturm said.

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