Altoona Water Authority General Manager Mark Perry on Friday reassured area residents who may be worried about the authority's sale of bulk water to natural gas drillers during this dry period.
"Our customer base is first and foremost," Perry said. "We would not do anything to jeopardize our supply."
The authority's reservoir management plan calls for the authority to "shed" bulk sales "early" during the progress of an actual drought, said Tobias Nagle, the authority's water treatment operations supervisor.
Moreover, the authority's 12 reservoirs collectively were just a little under 90 percent of capacity Friday afternoon, Nagle said. And that was before a downpour dropped more than a half inch of rain.
They're holding 229 days worth of water at the current usage rate of 9 million gallons a day, according to Nagle and Perry.
So the dry weather has hardly touched the supply.
The authority has sold about $80,000 worth of water so far to gas drillers, since it established a dispensing station at Margaret Avenue and 19th Street in the spring. It is trying to establish a second station in Pinecroft and recently set up a temporary one at Bellwood Reservoir treatment plant until it can get the permanent one established.
During the history of the city system, which includes reservoirs built by Altoona and by the Pennsylvania Railroad, with some formerly operated by the Blair Gap Water Co., management has never had a supply problem serious enough that it had to resort to mandatory restrictions, Perry said.
That despite higher usage in previous years, due to far more lost water and higher demand from industry, he said.
The reservoirs average 94 years old, Perry said.
The reservoirs can hold a total of 2.85 billion gallons, of which 2.76 billion would be accessible for treatment and distribution, Perry said.
That translates into 307 days worth of stored water, he said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.