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Water shortage concerns grow across Pennsylvania amid drought conditions

Perry County community forced to declare public water supply emergency as officials urge residents to be mindful of water usage.

DUNCANNON, Perry County — Water shortages are becoming a concern as south central Pennsylvania faces increasingly dry conditions.

Water levels in Duncannon Borough have sunk dangerously low as weeks of dry weather have tested the community's small water system.

"The drought conditions have reduced our production capacity by about 20 thousand gallons per day," said Duncannon Borough Engineer Greg Rogalski. "In a system like Duncannon which is relatively small, that's a pretty big impact."

In response, Duncannon Borough declared a public water supply emergency, restricting water usage for residents. 

"We're really asking residents at this point in time to curtail any type of non-essential water activities," said Rogalski. 

Joshua Thompson, a resident in the small community, admits growing concern following the declaration. 

"It is kind of an alarming feeling, knowing that any moment something could happen and then there may not be any water," said Thompson. 

Workers are keeping an eye on water levels, but say there’s not much they can do to change it.

"We have a system that reports our water levels every 15 minutes [and] we can relatively quickly determine what the trends are," said Rogalski. "It’s a significant challenge, as these levels start to fall, the only option we have is to truck water in and actually dump it into the reservoir."

Water shortage concerns across south-central Pa. follow record-low rainfall in May.

Officials at York Water Company say the Susquehanna River has dropped by more than half compared to this time last year.

Water companies are urging residents across south central Pa. to be mindful of their water usage under the dry conditions.

"Everyone within the Susquehanna Basin should recognize we are in an unusual period of time with dry weather," said York Water Company President and CEO J.T. Hand. "We would ask our customers, our neighbors, our friends, our family members to be cognizant of that, to recognize that, to not be foolish and wasteful."

Duncannon officials say residents can make a difference.

"I think this is one of the rare opportunities for residents to actually have an impact," said Rogalski. "It could cost upwards of 50 thousand dollars to truck water. The residents have a choice, if they choose to take matters into their own hands and reduce their water, it’s a possibility they could avoid future rate increases."

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