After imposing a two-month summer ban on outdoor water use and a six-month ban on building permits, the town of Manchester appears to be moving toward a solution of its mounting public water supply problems.
A recently completed study by consultants Tatman and Lee Associates recommends development of expanded water production and storage capacity, using a computer model to predict future demand and supplies.
The town gets its water from three springs and three wells. But the Maryland Department of Environment has warned that the springs that supply half the town's needs may soon be subject to contamination from ground water infiltration.
Manchester would have to find new wells or install a purification system for the springs, a more costly option.
But any solution will cost residents more than they now pay, $1.92 per 1,000 gallons. Residents must realize that taking action now is necessary to assure safe future water supplies and provide for growth that will surely come to this town of 3,000 people.
With the Tatman-Lee study in hand, Manchester should move promptly to investigate state and federal funding for the series of projects, which the consultants estimate will cost more than $1.3 million by the end of this decade, and another $750,000 by 2005.
Finding new secure wells should be a priority, not because they are needed today but because they will be needed at some unknown time in the near future, when it may be too late to sustain current supply levels. Water pressure booster equipment must also be added to the system.
The state agency's projections may be a bit overcautious, but that is justified given the importance of available pure water for the community. "If the state doesn't force a town's hand at something like this, it just isn't going to get done," Councilman Chris D'Amario noted.
Manchester cannot rely on natural rainfall to replenish and expand its water supplies, nor can it get by with short-term bans on building and consumer uses. Armed with the consultant's report, the town needs to press ahead to locate new wells and find the grants to help pay for them.