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Emmitsburg residents to pay for
 their external water use

Rick Fulton
Gettysburg Times

(4/23) Emmitsburg water service customers were reminded Monday that users will be expected to pay for water use outside of the home or business.

Those charges would be in addition to water supplies provided by the town for use "internally" in a home or business.

This is not a change of policy, but a reminder that water users are responsible for the difference between their allocated supply and extraneous uses.

Emmitsburg Town Council President Christopher V. Staiger said, "The town has an interest in the conservation of water, and our system is in place in a manner that typically bills for both delivery of water and for sewer removal of water."

"You have one meter going into your house. The assumption is that…the average house is budgeted for 250 gallons (of town processed water) per day. The assumption is that is for internal use. There’s no entry in that calculation for the external use of that water," he stated.

Town Manager David Haller noted that state law requires towns "to put treatment capacity in place for all of the water we produce. If you chose to bottle it and take it with you, that doesn’t alleviate our responsibility to have treatment capacity in place."

In other words, the town must have the capacity to process an amount of wastewater comparable to the amount of water produced for use (consumption) in the town.

Staiger said the town’s interest "is in providing water for consumption within the home and the town then provides treatment capacity to handle that water."

"If a homeowner or business owner decides to make alternate choices, such as watering their yards or shrubs or garden, then they’ll be billed accordingly for that," Staiger said. Those uses are not factored in as part of the bill based on internal use.

"In my mind, the town isn’t obligated to provide water for irrigation or for watering of lawns," he said. "I don’t feel the town is obligated to provide you water capacity in the same manner as we feel we are obligated to provide water for the internal use…

However, he said, to assist people in watering their gardens or lawns, "We can recommend options such as rain capture systems, rain barrels, which could be used for outside purposes. In an extreme situation, and this has been discussed, homeowners could buy another water meter and have a separate line come in that would be just for external use."

During times of water shortage," Staiger stated, "we have even discussed a surcharge on properties that we feel are using excessive water which is typically related to the watering of lawns."

Haller said water customers need to learn more about how their actions or water use affects the supply.

"Running a garden hose for 30 minutes, you can consume up to 250 gallons of water which is equivalent to an entire day of service for an entire family," the town manager stated.

"If you water your lawn for an hour and a half, you now have consumed four days of water in one day, the 250 your house used and the 750 your lawn used," he said, "You don’t realize how quickly that will go through a garden hose."

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