Residents attending the “Quenched by the Que” program Wednesday were asked to look at the Quemahoning Resevoir as a water resource.
The Somerset Conservation District hosted the program.
The continuing Quemahoning watershed projects provide increasing opportunities for recreation, wildlife habitation and sustainable drinking water, according to guest lecturers.
“The water is available now,” Somerset County Commissioner John Vatavuk said. “It’s money in the bank.”
The Quemahoning pipeline was completed in 2009. The resevoir holds 12 billion gallons of water and the pipeline is 40 miles long, according to Vatavuk.
He said much of the county’s water previously came from Laurel Hill Creek. This pipeline lifts the burden of water extraction and treatment from that area and transfers it to the sustainable resevoir.
“It has an endless supply of water,” he said.
This water supply is insurance against drought, according to plant manager Chris Meyer of the Somerset County General Authority. With droughts ongoing in the Midwest and South, this supply would become critical in a disaster situation, he said.
“Very few counties have the supply of water that we have,” he said.
The Somerset County General Authority charges $2.25 for every 1,000 gallons of water. They treat 1.3 million gallons per day, Meyer said.
They plan to continue expanding storage capabilities and adding more communities to the service area. The pipeline currently serves Conemaugh, Lincoln and Somerset townships and Boswell and Somerset boroughs. Ralphton was added this month and Jefferson Township will soon be added, according to Vatavuk.
The Somerset County General Authority operates the treatment plant and buys water from the Cambria Somerset Authority.
The CSA is an operational alliance formed in 1999 to treat and sell Quemahoning water. Each county puts $500,000 into the authority.
CSA Operations Manager Earl Waddell said the authority initiated many projects for the Quemahoning to provide benefits to the residents while practicing conservation.
“Our goals are to provide high-quality, low-cost industrial water while providing diverse recreational activities to the citizens of this region,” he said.
These recreational activities include hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, mountain biking, picnic pavillions, playgrounds, camping, horseshoe pits and whitewater release.
The CSA completed several projects regarding wildlife and recreation. The Que Chestnut Orchard and Wildlife Project was completed in conjunction with Pennsylvania State University. They planted trees around the Quemahoning. Eighty percent of the trees survived.
“What a mission it was and what a goal they accomplished,” he said.
Another was the Que Large Scale Fish Habitat Improvement Project, which increased fish population.
The members of the CSA plans to conduct a project to rebuild the bridge on Green Bridge Road next year with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.