By Bob Laylo
The Morning Call
March 28, 2006

Follow-up tests on Tamaqua’s drinking water show lead levels at the tap and at the Still Creek Reservoir to be well under state guidelines.

The tests were prompted by a sample taken in 2004 that showed lead levels in the reservoir seven times what they should be. That test also showed that lead was within safe range by the time it reached taps because of treatment.

The follow-up sample was taken March 16, Tamaqua Borough Authority Chairman Brian Connely said at Monday night’s meeting. He said the sample drawn from the reservoir had a lead level of .002 parts per million, well under the state’s limit of .015 parts per million. The water coming out of a tap had a lead level even lower than the reservoir level.

Connely said the borough will continue to do additional testing over the next few weeks.

Connely said hydrogeologist Bob Gadinski and environmental consultant Ed Shoener are guiding the testing.

”We have been following what they told us and we got some decent results so far,” Connely said.

Connely said future samples would be drawn from different homes in the borough and at different locations and depths in the reservoir. He also said tributaries to the reservoir may be tested.

Gadinski and Shoener will advise the borough authority what other tests need to be performed. Connely said he does not know the extent of the tests, and how much they will cost.

To help pay for the tests, state Sen. James Rhoades, R-Schuylkill, and state Rep. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, have each promised $10,000 toward a study.

Area residents are worried about what they believe to be an unusual number of cancer cases in the area, particularly along Ben Titus Road in Quakake. They believe the cause is the former McAdoo Associates Superfund site that is about a mile from the reservoir.

While the borough got some good news on water quality, residents will pay more for their water.

The authority voted to raise the base rate for water for homeowners by $2 a month. The rate for the first 6,000 gallons will go from $20 to $22 a month.

Rates for larger users will increase by $5 to $30 a month. Council members complained that the increase burdens residents, particularly the elderly. Councilwoman Ann Simard said the increase would hurt the ”little old lady” who lives on a fixed income.

”There are a lot of old people in town who can’t pay,” council President John Trudich said. ”This is a retirement community.”

Authority members said the increase is needed because the authority is selling less water and generating less money while costs are rising.

In another matter, the authority rejected a request from Nassau Metals Corp. to treat water that runs through huge piles of plastic coating over metal wire in the Eastern Diversified Metals Superfund site in Hometown. The authority said it would have to pay for expensive tests for metals at its sewage treatment plant. Members also were concerned the metals could damage the plant.