The people on the mountain top are running out of water.
They’re served by Mountaintop Regional Water Authority, which provides water to Snow Shoe borough, Snow Shoe Township and Burnside Township.
On Monday, the water levels in the German settlement tank and Snow Shoe tank were at 13 and just more than 5 feet, respectively. (German settlement holds about 1/2 million gallons, and the one near Snow Shoe holds about 200,000.)
The authority is asking residents to conserve water to help raise the levels.
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More than 50 residents attended the water authority’s meeting Monday night, and many expressed concerns about the poor quality (several say they have green water and that it’s too dirty to bathe in) and wanted to know what will happen if the water runs out.
“We’re in an emergency situation right now. ... There’s got to be somebody in our government that can step up for us,” said Pam Witherite, of Pine Glen. “Just because we’re a little town and we’re not great, big, giant Altoona or State College or something like that. We need water. We cannot survive without good water.”
If they do run out of water, it’s likely the authority will have to call the state Emergency Management Agency, which Peary Schmoke said will bring bottled water and a water truck.
Some residents suggested trucking water from Bellefonte, which has an abundance of clean water thanks to the Big Spring.
It would cost $300 per 5,000 gallons of water to get it hauled to the mountain top from Bellefonte, said Archie Passuello, who’s on the water authority board.
Schmoke, vice chairman of the board and Pine Glen fire chief, said they’re also so far away from other water systems that they wouldn’t be able to pipe it in.
The water has been under a boil water notice for about a week, and it’s expected to last until the weekend.
The water authority provides water to 1,300 homes and businesses.
Part of the problem is that there isn’t enough water in the wells.
“There’s not water in the ground. That’s what we’re trying to say is we have no water in the ground. We just don’t have it,” Passuello said.
The authority might get into a situation where it needs to look for new wells, authority board member John Rigg said.
Another issue is that about 50 percent of the authority’s water is lost through leaks or it’s unaccounted for or unmetered.
The water authority is made up of four different systems that consolidated into one less than a decade ago. The entire system is made up of more than 100 miles of pipes, and the daily usage averages 365,000 gallons.
And, of course, like everything else, solutions cost money. Money the authority doesn’t have, and can’t seem to get.
“We have applied for grants after grant after grant,” Rigg said.
He said the authority has been told it doesn’t charge enough for water to get certain grants or loans.
To replace every line on the mountain top would cost hundreds of millions, said Jim Yost, authority board chairman.