The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Thursday, Nov. 19, 1998


Post-quake well woes haven't dried up

By Erin Remai
Herald Staff Writer

For most people, the earthquake that rocked northwestern Pennsylvania nearly two months ago was a quick shock. But for residents and businesses along and around East Jamestown Road, West Salem Township, the tremor continues to upset their daily lives.

On this stretch of Route 58 north of Greenville -- near the quake's epicenter -- drilling rigs are a familiar site and water conservation has become a necessity. Wells in this section of the county have been drying up ever since the earthquake.

"Within the week after the earthquake, it started going really low and sucking up mud," said Barb Fry, who lives on East Jamestown Road. "The water we have now is enough for two showers and to wash your hands and flush the toilet."

Mrs. Fry said Chatfield Drilling, Greenville, came to her home Monday to drill the well and were still working Wednesday morning.

"Hopefully within the next couple of days, we'll have water," Mrs. Fry said.

Just down the road from the Fry house, the Harvest Baptist Church also experienced well trouble.

"It kept getting lower and lower and lower. We still had water, but it took a couple of hours to get it back up again," said Bob Hopp, deacon at the church. "We started noticing about a week ago that it was getting a little dark. We saw the handwriting on the wall and thought we'd better get it redrilled."

Patty Reese, an employee at Tri State Aggregate Supply Inc., said she had been working at the building ever since it was a restaurant and did not remember ever having trouble with the water.

"We had water a little after the earthquake, then it went dry," she said. "We lost it for about two weeks, then a well driller lowered the pump. Then we lost the water again."

Tom Thurber Drilling, Greenville, was at Tri State Wednesday morning drilling, while Stiffy's Drilling, Volant, was at work at the church.

The situation was serious enough for state Sen. Robert D. Robbins, Salem Township, R-50th, to call in the United States Geological Survey for answers.

"We're basically gathering data from the drillers drilling new water wells and looking at the hydrogeological aspects of the earthquake," said Theodore F. Buckwalter, hydrologist with USGS in Pittsburgh.

He said USGS was not only looking at problems where wells went dry, but also looking at places where water levels went up. Buckwalter said the reason why wells are still running dry two months after the earthquake is that groundwater moves very slowly.

Buckwalter said USGS will put together the records on all the new wells that have been drilled and draw up a map showing their locations in comparison with the earthquake's epicenter. "If there are other earthquakes in other parts of Pennsylvania with similar hydrogeological settings in the future, if we know what happened in Greenville, it will give us insight into future problems," he said.

Residents of Jamestown Road don't want to think about additional problems. They just want their water back.

"Everybody's been affected," Mrs. Fry said. "We'll just do the best we can."

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Updated Sept. 27, 1998
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