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Marie Water Company


pp. 664-666
Marie Water Company, Big Bend Village.

This application was made by the Marie Water Company of the village of Big Bend or Expedit, Black Lick Township, Cambria County, and is for permission to obtain an additional source of supply and to extend its water-works system.

The village of Big Bend, as the community at Expedit is called, is a mining settlement in the extreme southern part of Black Lick Township, Cambria County, on the south fork of the Black Lick Creek which divides Black Lick and Jackson Townships. The nearest railroad station is Twin Rocks on the Cambria and Clearfield Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad one-half mile south of Big Bend and nine miles west of Ebensburg, the county seat of Cambria County. A branch for coal transportation extends to the mines at Big Bend.
The village has a population of twelve hundred. It was two hundred in one thousand nine hundred and three, when the mines and town were developed by the Commercial Coal Company and the Big Bend Coal Company, which represent the same interests and own more than one thousand acres and control considerable more land in the vicinity. Coal mining is the only important occupation for the inhabitants. Bituminous coal underlies the entire section. The surface formation is red shale.

It is estimated that about five million gallons per day of mine drainage are discharged to the creek from the several mines around Big Bend. The creek is greatly polluted by mine drainage at several points above.

Coal Pit Run a tributary of the south fork of Black Lick Creek skirts the village on the southeast. There are four small private sewers to this run. Both the run and the creek are badly polluted by waste water disposed of on the surface of the ground and in gutters and by overflowing privies. The town is in an extremely unsanitary condition.

The Marie Water Company was incorporated May twelfth, one thousand nine hundred and two, for the purpose of supplying water to the public in the township of Black Lick, Cambria County. The water company represents the same interests as the mining companies.

In one thousand nine hundred and two a small reservoir was built on a run west of the village between First and Second Streets. Coal workings beneath it caused the abandoning of this reservoir. Another was constructed further up on the same stream about two hundred feet west of the village. The drainage area above the reservoir is about fifty acres, partially wooded and uninhabited. The reservoir had an area of about one thousand square feet, an average depth of two feet and a capacity of about fifteen thousand gallons. The bottom and sides are reported to have been stripped. The water is decidedly turbid. Although there are no houses on the drainage area, the reservoir is liable to pollution because of the proximity of the nearest dwellings of the village and the habits of their occupants, especially the children. The reservoir is not protected by a fence. This source is connected with the distributing system in the village by a three inch and a two inch pipe, although the supply is no longer used. It may be used in the future for boiler purposes.

An increased supply became necessary because of the growth of the community, principally in a northerly direction along the highway of Ebensburg. A supply was piped into Big Bend from a reservoir of a capacity of ten thousand gallons constructed on Spring Run. This source of supply also became inadequate and the existing system was installed.

In one thousand nine hundred and seven, the reservoir on Spring Run, a tributary of Coal Pit Run, just north of the village was enlarged so as to have a capacity of one million one hundred and twenty-five thousand gallons. This is one of the existing sources of supply. It is formed by a masonry wall one hundred and twenty feet long and fourteen feet high across a ravine. The sides and bottom of the basin are reported to have been stripped. The depth of the water at the breast is twelve feet.

The drainage area above the reservoir is about one and one-half square miles, uninhabited and partially covered with second growth timber. The flow of the run on August fourteenth, one thousand nine hundred and eight, was estimated to be about thirty thousand gallons per day and the water in the reservoir was somewhat discolored.

From a masonry intake in the reservoir a three inch galvanized iron supply main extends in a southwesterly direction eighteen hundred feet across private property to the principal highway of the village, the Ebensburg road, in which the three inch main continues in a southerly direction through Big Bend.

In one thousand nine hundred and seven the supply was also increased by the construction of the Seldersville reservoir, a part of the existing water works system. This reservoir is located just north of Big Bend and is partly in excavation in a hillside. The face on the down hillside is formed by a masonry wall fifty feet long and eight feet high. The reservoir has a capacity of twenty-five thousand gallons, an average depth of four feet and a surface area of about eight hundred square feet. The principal supply to the reservoir comes from springs in the bank immediately above it, but it also receives the run-off from a drainage area of about twenty acres. Within this area and one hundred feet above and east of the reservoir is a dwelling occupied by two persons. The only means of sewage disposal provided at this estate is a shallow privy vault from which pollution might reach the source of water supply. The Ebensburg Road passes along the edge of the reservoir at an elevation three feet below its top. The basin is not covered or fenced in. The flow of the springs was estimated to be five thousand gallons per day on August fourteenth, one thousand nine hundred and eight, and the body of water had a more than usually noticeable blue appearance.

A three inch galvanized iron pipe extends from this reservoir southward in the Ebensburg Road eighteen hundred feet to a point at which it terminates in a connection with the supply main from the large reservoir on Spring Run.

Just above the junction of the pipes from the Seldersville and Spring Run reservoirs there is a valve on each pipe line. This point is at elevation of twenty-six feet below the elevation of the water in the Spring Run reservoir and ninety feet below the elevation of the water in the Seldersville reservoir. Therefore, it is necessary to keep one of these valves closed except under unusual conditions and it is customary to keep the one closed on the Seldersville line, this supply being used exclusively to furnish water to about seventeen houses along the pipe line above the junction of the two pipes. The profiles of the three inch main drops rapidly below the junction of the two supply pipes. It extends about twenty-two hundred feet southward in the Ebensburg Road through Big Bend to the lower end of the village near the creek.
About five short one and one-half and two inch distributing pipes with dead ends branch from the three inch main. A three inch branch extends across the South Fork of Black Lick Creek and may supply water lo about eighteen dwelling houses and the boiler houses of the Commercial Coal Mining Company and the Big Bend Coal Mining Company, although the latter is fitted to obtain a supply by pumping from the creek. These buildings are in Jackson Township. No provisions are made for flushing the system either through blow-offs or fire hydrants. Practically the entire population is supplied by the water-works. It is reported that there are no wells or springs in use.

Should the water supply fail or the public be driven to constructing wells, disease-even an epidemic-might result, in view of the unsanitary condition of the town and the custom of disposing of sewage in shallow overflowing privy vaults and on the surface of the ground and gutters, conditions which it would be difficult to completely remedy at once. Up to the present time only isolated cases of Typhoid fever have occurred.

The water company started the construction of extensions to its system in one thousand nine hundred and seven before making application to the Department only because of the fear of a water famine and most disastrous resulting conditions.

The Spring Run supply, being derived, so it is reported, from an uninhabited drainage area, should be reasonably safe, especially after being allowed to settle in the large reservoir. The Seldersville reservoir should also furnish a reasonably safe supply if proper precautions are taken to prevent pollution of its waters by sewage and waste water from the dwelling above it. Since this source of supply is not dependent to any considerable extent upon the surface run-off, there appears to be no reason why a ditch and dyke should not be provided to prevent this surface runoff from reaching the basin. In any event, methods of sewage disposal to keep the sewage from this property from reaching the reservoir, either through the ground or over the surface, should be adopted. The reservoir should be tightly roofed over to prevent pollution of its waters by travelers on the highway. As mentioned, it is understood that the small reservoir west of Big Bend is not to be used as a source of domestic water supply and the connections between this source and the town's distributing system should be severed.

Adequate facilities should be provided for draining and cleaning the reservoirs and the entire pipe system.

It has been determined that the water-works and source of supply herein considered and the proposed extensions thereto are not prejudicial to the public health and the same are hereby and herein approved and a permit issued therefore, subject to the following conditions and stipulations:

FIRST: On or before September first, one thousand nine hundred and nine. the water company shall file in the office of the State Department of Health maps of the drainage areas above its several reservoirs, showing the location of all streams, highways, buildings and other possible sources of pollution, also detailed plans of its dams, reservoirs and intakes showing the pipe connections and facilities for drainage; and also plans of the supply pipes and distributing system, showing the location of all valves and blow-offs.

SECOND: On or before September first, one thousand nine hundred and nine, the water company shall provide ample facilities for draining its several dams, reservoirs and intakes and all low points and dead ends of the pipe system.

THIRD: The reservoir west of Big Bend on the small run near Second Street shall not be used as a source of domestic water supply for the public and on or before September first, one thousand nine hundred and nine, all connections between this source and pipes supplying water to the public shall be severed.

FOURTH: On or before September first, one thousand nine hundred and nine, a tight cover shall be provided for the Seldersville reservoir to completely protect it against chance or malicious pollution by passers by on the highway.

FIFTH: The water company shall maintain a sanitary patrol of the several drainage areas from which it derives its supply and shall have a sanitary inspection made at least once every month of the habitation above the Seldersville reservoir and of any future occupied estates on any of the drainage areas and the reports of the inspections shall be filed in the office of the State Department of Health. Unless the habitation above the Seldersville reservoir be vacated, the buildings razed and the surface soil in the vicinity stripped off, the water company shall see that a water tight masonry privy vault is constructed at this property and that suitable means are provided for the disposal of all domestic wastes at this property immediately, and that the same are properly maintained so as to prevent any pollution reaching the reservoir either underground or over the surface. Any neglect of any individual or owner of property on any of these drainage areas to comply with sanitary regulation shall be promptly reported by the water company to the Commissioner of Health. The presence of any infectious disease on the drainage areas shall he promptly reported to the said Commissioner of Health.

SIXTH: Detail reports of the operation of the water-works shall be kept on blank forms satisfactory to the Slate Department of Health and copies thereof shall be filed in the office of the said Department.

SEVENTH: At the end of each season's work, plans and such information as may be required shall be filed in the office of the said Department of Health showing the extensions made to the distributing system during the year, in order that the State Department may be always fully informed of the extent of the water-works and its use by the public.

EIGHTH: If at any time in the opinion of the Commissioner of Health any part of the water works or water supplied thereby becomes prejudicial to public health, then such remedial measures shall be adopted as the Commissioner of Health may advise or approve.

NINTH: This permit shall not be construed as authorizing the Marie Water Company to supply water to the public other than in its charter territory.
Harrisburg, Pa., June 23rd, 1909.

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