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Water problems have returned to the Mountaintop region. Here's why

Work on water line valves in Snow Shoe borough on Sunday forced the Mountaintop Regional Water Authority to halt pumping to its water storage tanks, including the German Settlement Tank, for several hours.
Work on water line valves in Snow Shoe borough on Sunday forced the Mountaintop Regional Water Authority to halt pumping to its water storage tanks, including the German Settlement Tank, for several hours. Centre Daily Times, file

The Mountaintop region's water levels took a slight hit over the weekend.

Work on a couple water line valves in Snow Shoe borough on Sunday forced the Mountaintop Regional Water Authority to halt pumping to its water storage tanks for several hours.

The Snow Shoe and German settlement tanks are currently at 17 feet and 20 feet, respectively. However, the "magic number" is 25 feet, according to Mountaintop Regional Water Authority Chairman Jim Yost. He said the water levels are starting to come back up.

Crews went to replace a valve in the water line across from Snow Shoe Park, but they encountered a leak on a larger line that also needed to be fixed, Yost said. The surrounding valves were shut down during that time, which stopped water from being pumped into the tanks but customers' service wasn't interrupted.

"Sundays are a big daily usage day and (water levels) always drop," he said.

The water authority serves about 1,300 homes and businesses in Burnside Township, Snow Shoe Township and Snow Shoe borough.

Local residents should not worry about running out of water, Yost said, but water conservation is still needed.

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The region has experienced several water supply issues lately. In January, customers were issued a boil water notice that lasted two weeks, and the water levels in the tanks were in "critical condition," causing the authority to worry that people might wake up one day and be out of water.

The water authority draws from two wells, and there’s also a spring that serves Pine Glen. However, another water source is needed.

"Until we bring on line another source, we're close to the edge — that's a couple years away possibly," Yost said.

He said the water authority has found several areas with a high volume of water, but they're farther away and it would cost a lot to build the needed infrastructure. So, they're trying to find a source that might not have as high a volume but is closer to the authority's existing infrastructure.

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In an effort to help conserve water until the authority's tank levels reach 25 feet, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has temporarily closed the eastbound and westbound rest areas on Interstate 80 near Snow Shoe exit 147. Yost does not know how long it will take to reach that level, but he said it should be soon.

The closest open rest areas are near the Reynoldsville exit in Jefferson County (westbound) and about a mile east of the Jersey Shore exit at mile marker 192 in Clinton County (eastbound).

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