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Pa. water authority to allow connections

Three-year moratorium partially lifted

Three-year moratorium partially lifted

December 20, 2007|By DON AINES

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - A three-year moratorium on new water connections in the area served by the Bear Valley Joint Authority has been partially lifted, with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection allowing 450 connections over the next three years.

"We're back in the business of selling water taps," Authority Chairman Wayne Henry said Wednesday of the revised consent order with DEP. The previous consent order banned the sale of new connections in November 2004, Authority Manager Robert John said.

The authority serves more than 4,000 customers in Hamilton, St. Thomas and Peters townships, John said. About two-thirds of those customers are in Hamilton Township and the number of new connections will be based on the percentage of users in each municipality, John and Henry said.

For new construction, a land-use permit and building permit first must be issued before one of the 450 new connections can be purchased. Those will not be required for existing structures, Henry said.

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The connection fee for a typical home is $4,996, John said.

The authority has spent $10 million in recent years, increasing the size of its water lines and a nearly completed upgrade to its water treatment plant, Henry said. The amount of water it purchases daily from Chambersburg also has increased from 820,000 gallons to a minimum of 950,000 gallons a day, costing the authority about $56,000 a month, John said.

The Chambersburg water system and Broad Run are the main sources of water for the authority, John said. The authority is also developing new sources, including a well at the St. Thomas Development Inc. quarry, which are expected to increase capacity, Henry said.

The authority is currently permitted for an average daily flow of 1.2 million gallons with a peak flow of 2.2 million gallons, John said.

For the time being, restrictions on water use imposed several years ago remain in effect, John said. That includes no car washing, watering of lawns or topping off swimming pools, he said.

Impact fees for water system improvements and expansion are not allowed in Pennsylvania, Henry said, leaving the authority with two ways of raising revenues - increasing rates or selling connections. He said it would have been unfair to raise rates for longtime customers to make improvements to benefit developers.

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