BURNSIDE - While several hundred riders competed at the Valley Forge Trail Riders Anthracite Hare Scramble June 30, residents of a nearby community said they were without water for approximately three hours.

The lack of water upset several residents, who hope the incident will not become a regular occurrence if the proposed Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) becomes reality.

"What will happen if someone is hurt or killed, or loses all their personal belongings in a fire they can't put out, because they needed water at the ATV park?" asked resident Darlene Zurick.

Tate Huntsinger, operations manager for Aqua Pennsylvania's Roaring Creek Division, said the lack of water June 30 was an isolated incident and steps are being taken so that it won't happen again.

Residents say it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

Water, water, nowhere

Zurick said the problem started when members of the East Cameron Township Fire Company filled their tanker engine at Burnside's lone hydrant.

The fire company, along with the Trevorton Fire Company, were asked by the event's sponsors to supply water for to wet the track during the event. The companies received a donation for their time and work.

Aqua Pennsylvania said no fire companies were authorized to use the hydrant except in case of emergency.

"That hydrant is only supposed to be opened for emergencies or flushing, not the way it was used that day," Huntsinger said.

Another resident tried telling firefighters pumps that bring water to Burnside would shut off if they continued using the hydrant, Zurick said.

The firefighters didn't listen and the pumps stopped, leaving residents high and dry.

An Aqua Pennsylvania employee was tasked with resetting the pumps and restoring the service June 30.

Zurick and other residents, who are against the AOAA, said such problems are unacceptable.

"Someone wrote a letter to the editor asking, 'So what if they used a little water for the safety of the riders?'" Zurick said. "What about our safety? Why should we put up with no water, increased traffic and all the garbage being left up there? We still have our rights."

Won't happen again

Northumberland County Planning Director Pat Mack heard about the water outage, but the reports were conflicting.

"Some people said it was three hours, others said that it was all weekend. The only thing everyone agrees on is there is a public safety issue," Mack said.

According to conversations Mack had with the fire company, approximately 900 to 1,000 gallons of water were taken from the hydrant, an amount that causes concern for Mack.

"If only 900 gallons were taken out and it kicked the pumps off, what happens when there is a fire?" Mack asked.

Huntsinger said both the East Cameron Fire Company and its township supervisors will be informed not to use that hydrant to fill tankers.

That's one step taken to alleviate the problem, Mack said.

"We are sorry that it happened, and I can assure you it will not happen again," Mack said.

Mack said that there have been preliminary discussions on the AOAA's water system, but nothing is set.

"That was something talked about in the master plan phase, but it will not be cheap," Mack said.

Huntsinger said there's nothing in the works from Aqua's end to provide service to the AOAA.

Mack said funding the water supply project will be a long process.

"We have had many internal discussions on the water issue with the park and how to do it and pay for it. There is no easy answer right now," Mack said.