The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Monday, Oct. 26, 1998


Quake drains 30 local wells

The Associated Press

Last month's earthquake apparently pulled the plug on the water supply for a few dozen homes in West Salem Township.

The quake shifted water tables below the Earth, rendering useless wells that had been dug at great expense to homeowners.

Missy Strausser said the water in her taps was discolored immediately after the quake. Her farm animals would not drink it.

"It turned like a cup of coffee," the West Salem Township woman said.

The water later cleared up but stopped flowing altogether last Tuesday.

About 30 families who live east of Greenville are without water.

Officials of the U.S. Geological Survey told homeowners that the wells might have been drained as the Earth was shaken Sept. 25 by an earthquake that registered 5.2 on the Richter scale..

"Many residents have lived here their whole lives and never had any problems with their wells," said state Rep. Rod Wilt, Sugar Grove Township, R-17th District.

Wilt has been in contact with both county and state emergency management agencies and the state Department of Environmental Protection to alert them to the problem and was told DEP is fully investigating the matter.

Wilt said DEP has also contacted the United States Geological Survey to help pinpoint the cause of the dry wells and to help determine where water might now be located.

Mrs. Strausser said a new well could cost $2,000 that she and her husband, Larry, cannot afford. He had worked at a factory for 26 years but is on disability with a back injury.

Her insurance does not cover well damage, and she said most well drillers are unwilling to set up a payment plan that she might be able to afford.

"Right now, $500 would thrill us to death," Mrs. Strausser said.

Chances are slim for state assistance, said Marko Bourne, a spokesman for the state Emergency Management Agency.

"I really feel for what they are going through, but unfortunately there are no mechanisms in place for this kind of situation," he said.

He said if the township declares a disaster, the state could send in water tankers temporarily.

Companies have been drilling replacement wells at some homes and have started a waiting list. Drillers need to go about 140 feet down to hit water.

"Their machinery is taking a beating, but they're working non-stop," Larry Strausser said.

"I have great concerns for the residents in the community with water problems," Wilt said. "I will continue to make every effort to keep residents informed of the latest findings by state and county officials. I can assure residents that officials are on top of the situation to determine the causes of the water shortages and then to find possible solutions."

Herald Staff Writer Erin Remai contributed to this story.

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Updated Oct. 26, 1998
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