People in Hess Development getting used to public water

PAT FRIDGEN

Five of the 10 households affected by a mandatory connection ordinance have hooked on to public water. The Hess Development residents willingly or under duress obeyed the order of Greencastle Area Franklin County Water Authority to abide by the Antrim Township ordinance to connect to the public water line run through their development in 2007. Legal wrangling and other priorities delayed GAFCWA from enforcing the ordinance until this summer. In June the matter was done within hours for most. Three other residents took an option offered by the authority, to connect by 2019. The final two had until today, Aug. 24, to connect or GAFCWA would take the next step.

While most of the residents opposed connection, (eight attended the June 15 GAFCWA meeting to express their ire), they realized at some point they would have to do so, and went ahead with the project. They didn't waste time.

Chip Comer called a plumber for an estimate on a Friday, and discovered the company would be connecting others the next week. He signed on. By lunchtime on his assigned day, his house at 11706 Kimberly Drive had a new water source. The plumber ran a line from the water main into his home, the borough approved the work and he was set.

Dennis Guyer agreed that the connection was done quickly at his 11665 Kimberly Drive home.

The Stevens family at 11648 Kimberly Drive also hooked on.

Ken Izer beat everyone to the punch. He and his siblings installed the public water a few weeks earlier when their mother's well pump died. The job was done in about four hours.

The result

Comer doesn't know if Greencastle's water tastes better than his well water because he drinks bottled. He did immediately notice the water pressure was better. "That's a plus." He also had the assurance that if electricity goes out, he will still have water. He uses his well for watering the lawn and washing his vehicles.

Guyer commented on the taste. "It's like a lot of municipal water, a chemical taste sometimes. But I know it's safe. With a well, you never know." He characterizes the pressure as more consistent. He kept an outside spigot as allowed by GAFCWA.

Why they did it

Izer said only because the pump went out did his family agree to connect to public water. He is not happy with the actions of GAFCWA. "They're bullying us."

Comer didn't think the cost to fight in court was worth it. He felt pressured to connect and would have preferred to do it on his own terms. He also predicted it would cost more to connect in the future. "The opportunity was here. Why wait?"

As to why he hooked up, Guyer replied, "Why not?" He's sure that if any home goes on the market, people moving into the area will want treated water. "Many have no clue how to use a well."

Rates

People in the Hess Development can now expect four water bills a year, just as all customers of the public utility do. Two entities serve the greater community. Greencastle's water rate is a minimum quarterly charge of $75.60 for up to 9,000 gallons. After that it is $8.40 per 1,000 gallons. That compares to the Antrim Township Municipal Authority base customer rate of $48.22 and $6.94 per 1,000. Their first 9,000 gallons would equate to $110.68.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the average person uses 100 gallons a day from the kitchens and bathrooms. A family of four would therefore use about 12,000 gallons a month. As a GAFCWA customer that would cost them $100.80 and as an ATMA customer $131.50.

Greencastle has 2,155 customers, of which 455 live in the township. ATMA has 350.