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Carbon officials continue to monitor water levels

Published July 15. 2010 05:00PM

Carbon County's water supply seems to be OK overall in most municipalities in the county.

That was the message water authority officials brought with them during a recent meeting of the Carbon County Drought Task Force.

The meeting was called to order on Wednesday as a result of extended dry conditions that had been blanketing the area in hot, humid, rainless weather over the last few weeks. Some relief was found Tuesday and Wednesday morning as strong rain showers moved through the area, dropping around two inches of rain and causing flash flooding along Route 248 near Parryville.

During the meeting, Nesquehoning, Lehighton, Lansford, Coaldale and Palmerton water authority representatives stated that current conditions in their municipality was "fairly stable" and "in good shape."

Frank Parano of the Nesquehoning Water Authority said they have been monitoring municipal wells that are utilized by the borough and no noticeable changes have been recorded.

Bill Merics of the Palmerton Water Authority agreed, stating that the borough has also not seen any noticeable changes in its water supply.

On the other hand, in areas such as Mauch Chunk Lake, the effects of the lack of a long soaking rain have been recorded.

Dave Horvath, director of Mauch Chunk Lake Park, reported that the lake is down a total of 36.5 inches.

Part of the deficit is due to repairs at the lake that required some water to be released.

Horvath explained that the lake level dropped 24 inches as a result of the partial release of water.

On June 28, the gates that release water were closed and since then, the lake has been losing a half inch a day.

"We were down 37.5 inches but the recent rain helped us gain one inch back," he said.

No reports on water levels from Beltzville Lake or the Francis Walter Dam were available.

Mark Nalesnik, director at the Carbon County Emergency Management Agency, added that he had contacted well drillers in the area to see if any wells have gone dry.

He reported that between 18 and 24 wells scattered throughout the county have dried up over the last few weeks.

Nalesnik and Gary Williams, 9-1-1 manager at the Carbon County Communications Center, also reported on burn bans in the county.

Currently, Bowmanstown, East Penn Township, Mahoning Township and Jim Thorpe are in burn bans, meaning that no outdoor burning is allowed. A fifth municipality, Lower Towamensing Township, was taken off the burn ban list Wednesday.

When asked what could residents do to help alleviate potential water problems, Frank Waksmunski, founder of the Carbon County Groundwater Guardians, said that he recommends residents try to conserve water to help with any potential droughts and in case of fires.

"People should conserve water all the time," Waksmunski said, "and especially now because we don't know what the rest of the summer is going to look like. It could be that most of our aquifers are not going to be recharged until the fall. If we are already talking about drought, it's a good idea to start conserving now rather than when it hurts."

Currently, Carbon County is in a drought watch, meaning that the area's surface and ground water levels have been lower than normal. No official drought declaration has been declared to date.

Carbon County Commissioner Wayne Nothstein added that the rain that fell yesterday did not do much to relieve dry conditions because the quick showers did not have enough time to soak into the ground, rather it ran off, filling streams and creating flooding.

Carbon County's Drought Task Force is a group the county reorganized in 2007, when it was classified in a drought watch.

The group looks at the water resources in the area to determine the severity of a drought. This includes seeing how many wells have gone dry and how far they would have to drill to reach the water table. It also includes watching the river, creeks, lakes and dam levels.

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