Boroughs along the Susquehanna River are preparing for possible water contamination. Runoff from the massive fire Monday at the Miller Chemical and Fertilizer Plant in Adams County could soon make its way from the Conewago Creek into the river.
Officials in Wrightsville started preparing Thursday night out of caution. "We have no time frame that's why we prepare for the worst. We don't know if it's going to be fine and it's dissipated by the time it hits us and be a non-issue, we don't know if its going to take several days or even a week," said Phillip Landis, Chairman of the Wrightsville Borough Municipal Authority.
Thursday night, local fire departments helped pump thousands of gallons of water from the Susquehanna River into the borough's quarry, to be used be used as a temporary water supply. "We're going to stop pulling from the river at about 3 a.m. tomorrow [Saturday] in anticipation of the contaminates reaching our intake," said Landis.
Landis said it's not clear how much contaminated runoff will reach the area, or how long it will linger. "They will be testing that periodically and when the testing says it is safe we will begin drawing from the river again," he said.
A notice went out Friday to Wrightsville residents about water conservation.
Notice to Wrightsville residents:
"This is to advise you that due to River contamination from a recent fire, the Authority has stopped withdrawing water from the river. This reduces our water supply, so we are requesting that you voluntarily reduce your use of water effective immediately. Your water is safe to drink and we are working to keep it safe. We will update you as details emerge."
Across the river in Columbia, officials don't expect to be impacted but are being cautious. "We spoke with DEP again today and the concentrations are definitely lower and more diluted. Plus, the water is coming in the other side of the river, and the river is about a half a mile wide, so the chances of it really crossing the river and getting in our intake is relatively minor," said David Lewis, Vice President and General Manager of Columbia Water Company.
Lewis said they are being cautious and monitoring the water. "We have a process in place where about three times and hour we are checking to see whether any of the water conditions have changed and then we can make a decision whether we need to change the way we are treating the water, or if we need to make any other decisions," he said.