Cumberland Times-News

Local News

September 12, 2012

Keyser limiting use of water

Low creek level blamed

KEYSER, W.Va. — Keyser officials approved a resolution declaring a State of Emergency and a local water rationing plan because of low water levels in New Creek during Wednesday’s city council meeting.

The action affects customers in Keyser, McCoole and New Creek.

Mayor Randy Amtower said he had asked the governor’s office to provide a pump so water could be pumped from the dam area where the city’s main sewer crosses the North Branch of the Potomac River on the West Virginia side to an intake reservoir at the Water Treatment Plant.

Wednesday morning, Amtower decided to implement the water rationing plan and anyone found in violation will be issued a warning for the first offense and water may be shut off without notice and a surcharge can be added to the monthly bill for second offense offenders. The water rationing plan penalties apply to the primary water customer as well as the resale customer, said Amtower.

“The common sense version of this is just conserve,” said Amtower. “Don’t be wasteful. There are things that you can do to save water. It doesn’t sound like much if you shut your shower off two minutes sooner than you would have or you turn the water off while you are brushing your teeth.”

New Creek serves about 15,000 people and 5,000 different taps, according to Amtower.

“You can’t look at this as just the city of Keyser with about 2,400 taps,” said Amtower. “If 15,000 people all cut two minutes off of their shower, you have saved a lot of water. It is imperative.”

The water plant pumps 24 hours a day for 12-hour split shifts, according to William “Butch” Keister, filtration supervisor for the Keyser water treatment plant.

“It’s a battle trying to balance the flow of the creek with what you are trying to produce out of the plant,” said Keister during the meeting. Keister also said the city no longer has Dam Site 14 to rely on as a water source. “We need two weeks of rain.”

Amtower said earlier in the day he had spoken with major water customers like Denny’s, McDonald’s, Heartland Nursing Home, Potomac State College, Potomac Valley Hospital and the Board of Education about conserving water. Both the BOE and PSC switched to disposable dishes in order to save water, according to Amtower.

Allegany County government purchases water from Keyser to distribute to McCoole, according to a news release from the county.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor Mike Kesecker said the lagoons at the plant had a shortage of water that caused there to be a sewer odor, which is being treated.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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