Quick-fix coming to Lancaster County neighborhood plagued by water main breaks

MILLERSVILLE, LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. -- People in one Lancaster County community, fed up with water main breaks, might soon see the frequent "boil water" advisories to come to an end.

Some neighbors might not be happy with the proposed solutions to the problem.

The City of Lancaster Water Department is responsible for the water mains in Millersville.

It issued two more boil water advisories on May 1 and May 2, bringing the total to 19 within two weeks.

The city's public works director explained they now have a plan for neighbors who 've had had enough.

It might not be the solution they were hoping for as a fix.

Patchwork streets throughout a Millersville neighborhood mark the spot of nearly 20 water main breaks. All happening within a two-week time frame.

Homeowner M.J. Toomey said "very frustrating, especially when you have things to do, you know, you've got to get showers or cook or whatever."

The first breaks occurred in mid-April, on Easter Sunday

"Then all week long, we were without water off and on, and ever since that, we've been without water off and on, every time you turn around, we don't have no water," Toomey said.

Aging concrete mains underground are to blame, but neighbors may soon get a break of their own. A quick fix above ground that could help put and end to the boil water advisories for the neighborhood.

Lancaster City director of public works Charlotte Katzenmoyer said "temporary mains that would service all the properties, and would basically be an ugly steel pipe running in everybody's front yard, that would serve as temporary water."

"Why don't they just do the job and get it done and get it over with, instead of doing something like that. You're doing temporary, and that's costing how much, and you have to turn around and do it again," Toomey said.

Katzenmoyer said the reason for that is replacing three miles of concrete mains underground is a much more complicated process.

"A lot of design, a lot of geo-technical and survey work to be completed, permitting to be completed. There's a lot of steps in that process. Temporary water, we can just get the bids and have a contract to start," Katzenmoyer said.

It's a project that will take time and money. The cost of which would be built into rate hike for this neighborhood, if the Pennsylvania Utility Commission approves.

"I don't think that's right, Why should we pay for all that wasted water and everything that went. We didn't get to use it," Toomey said.

"A rash of breaks like this, really demonstrates to the PUC that we need that additional funding, to deal with our aging infrastructure, which every city is facing," Katzenmoyer said.

Katzenmoyer said the PUC allows them to ask for a rate hike every three years

The water main breaks just happened to occur at the same time as they make their request.

If approved, homeowners could see a rate hike anywhere from 10 to 15 percent.