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Voluntary water restriction in effect

Danielle Ryan

(12/14) During the December 6 Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners meeting, the Board voted to implement Phase I curtailment of water use as permitted by Section 13.04.160 of the Town of Emmitsburg municipal code.

Due to the lack of rain for several months, many towns in the area are currently under a drought watch. Adams County and parts of Frederick County are both urging residents to conserve water when they can.

Just n Emmitsburg, on average, over the past six months, the town has seen a precipitation deficit of 2.44 inches. By the end of October, numbers showed that Rainbow Lake was 2.3 feet below the spillway level, and as of December 6, the water level was 2.4 feet below spillway level. The normal level of water is supposed to be 16.6 feet, but over the past several months the water level has only been averaging about 14.2 feet.

The water quality has been terrible because the level has been continuously dropping. Dan Fissel, the Superintendent for the Water/Sewer plant, noted that it would be necessary for the Town to have continuous rain in order to filter out the algae accumulating in the wells. The roughing filters are being backwashed six times a day and the DE filters are being done three times per week, which exceeds the system's normal capacity. The necessity of cleaning these filters out so frequently is an immense waste of water, but until more rain is seen, the town will have to continue with the regimen.

On average the town’s wells are 60.75 feet below their optimum level as recorded in May 2011. As a result, the town has had to increase their pull of water from Mount St. Mary’s University, far exceeding their normal pull of 10,000 gallons of water per day. On November 22, the town had to increase the pull of water to 40 gallons per minute, which totals approximately 58,000 gallons a day. 53.8% of this water came from wells; 3.3% of this water came from Mt. St. Mary's; 53.3% of this water came from Rainbow Lake. As of December 6, the pull of water was reduced to 36,000 gallons per day.

Fissell recommended a Phase I water restriction. This curtailment is a voluntary conservation restraint by all users of water from the municipal water system of the Town. The town will need substantial rain or snow in order to alleviate the restriction. The curtailment will remain in place until the Board of Commissioners votes to remove the curtailment.

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