With projected dry conditions this spring and summer for the Lebanon Valley, it’s never too early to take steps to conserve our most precious natural resource.
For now, water levels for the City of Lebanon Authority, which provides water to 20,000 customers in central Lebanon County, from Lickdale to Cornwall and Cleona to East Lebanon at Narrows Drive, are at normal levels, according to Jon Beers, Executive Director, City of Lebanon Authority. The authority has two water sources, the Siegrist Dam in Pine Grove Township, Schuylkill County, and the Swatara Creek Intake in Jonestown.
“We average 45 to 50 inches of rain annually, as measured at our treatment plant, ” Beers said. “We had 48 inches in 2020, so it was an average year. It seems a little dry now, but we certainly are nowhere near a drought for water supply. We are seeing typical flow levels at the dam and intake for this time of year.”
The summer months, as expected, are when the authority typically loses the overflow at the Dam, especially during June or July.
“The water level will drop about 5 to 15 feet below the spillway elevation, and then recover in the fall or early winter when we have some tropical storms or hurricane remnants hit our area,” added Beers.
Water levels for Pennsylvania American Water (PAW), which has approximately 20,138 customers in Hershey, Palmyra, Hummelstown, and some parts of Lebanon County, are also average for its supply, which is fed by the Swatara and Manada creeks. The Swatara Creek is currently at about 2.67 feet and the company does not have data for Manada Creek, according to Maggie Sheely, External Affairs Manager at PAW.
The fact that both systems are at adequate levels heading into what is expected to be a drier than normal spring is good news for those professions that rely on water, especially farmers, and for consumers.
Beers noted that customers in the authority’s system consume about 130 gallons of water per day, which is down from years ago, and added that lower consumption “is a very good thing.” He noted there are several reasons why this trend has happened.
“People are renovating older homes and putting in new toilets that use less water per flush, or showers and sinks that have water-restricting faucets,” Beers wrote in an email to LebTown. “All new clothes washing machines and dishwashers are water and energy saving. Schools and other large use facilities are doing the same thing. Some toilets even use NO water…”
Water conservation is a practice that never goes out of season, and is especially important when the area experiences dry conditions during those months that typically generate most of the moisture that charges our water systems and aquifers.
“Fall and winter tend to be our dry…