Water, water …

Rain needed, and lots of it!A blanket of golden leaves lies around the Silver maple trunk like the flannel skirt wrapped around the base of a Christmas spruce. The past few days have been excellent for photography. Clear or slightly cloudy skies and a solar studio light turning single trees into huge sparkling lights scattered through the forest.

Rain is falling as I write, and has been for several hours, but so far the water gauge at Bridgeport, Maryland, shows maybe an inch or so rise in the Monocacy River. The gauge is about three miles from the confluence of Rock and Marsh creeks in Adams County, Pennsylvania, both formed, in part, by runoff from rain such as was falling Wednesday morning.

The lack of runoff indicates low levels in the county’s water table, insufficient to generate panic at our kitchen sinks but still a concern for planners as rain appears to soak into the ground rather than carry soil and other pollutants downstream out of Adams County and into the Chesapeake Bay.

Good news for the bay, not so much for farmers and gardeners in my home county.

Another trusty indicator of our water supply is Long Pine Reservoir, in Michaux State Forest near Caledonia State Park. It’s on a dirt road, and has no facilities, so if you need to go, go before you go.

It is a nice lake, man-made, excellent for kayaking and canoeing. It was a mite crowded for my taste on a “nice” 70-degree early November weekend. For one thing, 70 degrees is not “nice” in mid-November – which may have something to do with the water levels being so low.

I visited Long Pine a couple weeks ago on a wander through the South Mountains of Michaux. I took some pictures of the water level marked along the shores. Though I have seen it lower, there is a lot of shoreline exposed that should not be this time of year.

This past weekend, I stopped by again. In spite of a few days of potential flood rains, there has been little discernable change in the water level.

During a meeting I attended this week, someone noted amazement at the millions of dollars donors in my county contributed to a special collection event, and suggested – tongue firmly planted in cheek, I think – creation of a nonprofit organization that would take on repair of our roads.

I submit the money would better be spent on mass transit or planning for water shortages. Or both. Effective mass transit could help stave off some of the causes of the water shortage.

The nearly 130-year-old York Water Company satisfies its customers’ more than 30 million gallon-a-day water habit by drawing from two lakes, and understandably wishes to sell its unused allowance of Susquehanna River water to the Gettysburg Municipal Authority.

Maybe the company’s two lakes will prove immune to droughts that are siphoning the precious fluid from other lakes. I submit we should find more reliable ways to protect our supply than pumping it from other places.

Years ago, I am told, a certain county commissioner would talk at length about water with anyone who would pause a few seconds on a street corner or courthouse hallway. He proposed a system of reservoirs to supply what he saw as the future demand for water in Adams County.

Long Pine is the single functioning water reservoir in Adams County, and sends its water to Chambersburg.

Maybe that commenter was correct. Maybe we need to replace some of our politicians with a non-profit organization to ensure our nationally depressed water supply is available for coming generations.

Planting trees is, after all, only a start.

Thanks for sharing the ride. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Comments are welcome, and please feel free to share.

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