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Derry Borough Municipal Authority
620 North Chestnut Street
Derry, PA 15627

724-694-2305
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A Brief History of the Derry Water Company

Derry Water Company Incorporated May 12, 1887.

The original Board of Directors and shareholders of the Derry Water Company.

George T. Huff

Greensburg, PA

David E. Williams

Philadelphia, PA

Clifford Stanley Sims

Mount Holly, NJ

J.K. Russell

Derry Station, PA

Edward Pitcairn

Derry Station, PA

                                           

These men saw a vision of a future Derry.  They obtained the water rights to three streams within the Derry Area.  McGee Run, Millwood Run and Hillside Run.  The Hillside rights were later sold to Blairsville Borough to enhance their water supply for $10,000.00.

The Derry Water Company obtained its charter on May 4, 1887.  Contracts for construction of the water dams, transmission mains and distribution system were awarded September 14, 1887.

Construction started on October 13, 1887 and continued until December 17, 1887 when cold weather set in.  During this period 2,627' of 10" pipe, 659' of 8" pipe, 500' of 6" pipe, and 8,793' of 4" pipe were laid.  Also, during this period 21 fire hydrants and 20 stop valves were installed.

Work resumed March 29, 1888.  On May 15, 1888 the Lower McGee Run Reservoir was completed and water was fed into the system.  There were 24 taps made and applications for an additional 31.  Water was turned into taps on March 31, 1888.  The capacity of  the two McGee Run Reservoirs  is 4,500,000 gallons.

The Lower McGee Run Reservoir was constructed in 1888 at a cost of $9,138.80.  Upper McGee Run Reservoir was also constructed in 1888 at a cost of $12,704.00.  Millwood Run Reservoir was constructed in 1890 at a cost of $2,092.04.  Though the Millwood source is no longer used.

In 1900 the Derry Water Company contracted H. P. Stark Construction of Greensburg, Pa. to build Ethel Springs Reservoir.  The reservoir has an area of 30 acres and a capacity of 160 million gallons.  Raw water is fed from the McGee Run Reservoirs and from natural springs.  Cost of construction was $80,039.00.

Pictures from the construction of Lake Ethel (Click pictures to enlarge)

Construction of Lake Ethel
Construction of Lake Ethel
Construction of Lake Ethel

Water was pumped from Ethel Springs Reservoir by a steam driven pump that was located in the still existing white frame building at the water treatment plant.  The water was pumped to a low service reservoir on East Keeling Avenue built in 1901 at a cost of $8,575.00.  This reservoir has long been abandoned and the home of Steve Durika now sets in this location.  No treatment other than chlorine disinfection was provided.

In 1913 the Westmoreland Water Company, of Greensburg, purchased the Derry Water Co.  They made several improvements, the largest being a red brick pump building 20' x 17' which was constructed at Ethel Springs Reservoir at a cost of $2,495.00.  This housed a Jeansville two stage single suction centrifugal pump and related equipment at a cost of $11,540.00.  Also, improved chlorination equipment was installed at a cost of $25.00.  Water continued to be pumped to the East Keeling Avenue lower service reservoir.

In 1922 settling basins to improve water quality were constructed adjacent the pump building at a cost of $8,140.00.  Suspended solids settled in the basins prior to the water being pumped into the distribution system.

In 1933 the filtration plant was constructed with a design capacity of 1.25 million gallons per day.  The plant includes filtration units and pumping equipment necessary to provide adequate pressure through out the service area.  At this time aeration and a rapid chemical mix chamber were added to the settling basins.  The cost for these improvements was $34,432.00. The low-pressure reservoir on East Keeling Avenue was then taken out of service.

In 1943 Derry Borough Council created the Municipal Authority of the Borough of Derry for the purpose of negotiating the purchase of the water system from The Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.  The water system was purchased in 1952 and bonds issued in the amount of $650,000.00. This issue was paid off in 1992.

Members of the Board of Directors of the Authority since its organization in 1943.

Miles C. McWherter 

appointed in 1943

served until 1953 

10 years

Victor W. Smith 

appointed in 1943

served until 1949 

 6 years

H. Glenn Parrish

appointed in 1943

served until 1952 

 9 years

Roy F. Bergman  

appointed in 1943

served until 1955

12 years

Charles Kuntz 

appointed in 1943

served until 1964

21 years

Jesse C. Dudley  

appointed in 1949

served until 1956

 7 years

Roy Myers 

appointed in 1952

served until 1954

2 years

C. Blair Lyons

appointed in 1952

served until 1954

2 years

Michael Zsembik

appointed in 1957

served until 1967

10 years

Charles Igo 

appointed in 1958

served until 1963

5 years

Paul Diamond 

appointed in 1960

served until 1965

 5 years

Edward E. Shomo

appointed in 1961

served until 1966

 5 years

Clarence C. Deeds

appointed in 1963

served until 1978

15 years

Daniel Kist III 

appointed in 1964

served until 1969

5 years

Benjamin A. Dorazio 

appointed in 1965

served until 1984

19 years

Paul F. Mowry

appointed in 1966

served until 1991

25 years

David L. Gibb 

appointed in 1966

served until 1969

3 years

Richard A. Heacox 

appointed in 1969

served until 1994

22 years

James H. Caldwell 

appointed in 1969

served until 2003

33 years

Thomas E. Sylvester

appointed in 1978

still serving 

 

Harrison S. Glenny

appointed in 1984

served until 1990

 6 years

Donald S. Gray 

appointed in 1990

served until 2010

20 years

Richard K. Thomas

appointed in 1991

served until 2001

10 years

David M. McWherter

appointed in 1994

served until 2003

9 years

Frederick D. Goodman

appointed in 2001

served until 2005

5 years

Thomas W. McWherter

appointed in 2003

served until 2007

4 years

Sharon Shearer

appointed in 2003

served until 2003

2 months

Ronald T. Bolen

appointed in 2004

served until 2008

4 years

Curtis A Robbins

appointed in 2005

served  until 2014 9 years

Todd A. Krehlik

appointed in 2007

served until 2011

4 years

Christopher J. Holnaider

appointed in 2009

served until 2011

2 years

Allen G. Skopp

appointed in 2010

still serving

 

Kevin M. Quinlisk

appointed in 2011 still serving  

Vincent J. DeCario

appointed in 2012 still serving  

Richard K. Thomas

appointed in 2014 still serving  

 

Managers of the Authority since its Operations began in 1952

N. Dixie Wineman

appointed in 1952

served until 1961

9 years

Charles Kuntz

appointed in 1961

served until 1965

4 years

Edward E. Shomo

appointed in 1965

served until 2001

36 years

Richard K. Thomas

appointed in 2001

served until 2015

14 years

Amy L. Forsha

appointed in 2015 still serving  

  Assistant Managers                                     

Amy L. Forsha

appointed in 2010

served until 2015

 

ADDITIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS WERE MADE AS FOLLOWS:

1963:  Bonds were issued in the amount of $150,000 to finance replacement of old water lines in West Derry and Peanut.  The lines were originally installed by the coal companies and were too small and corroded to give adequate service.  The bonds matured in 1997. 

A second high service pump, alarm system and flow meter were installed at the filtration plant at a cost of $7,645.00.  This was required to keep up with the increased demand for water.  The old pump is utilized as a stand by pump.

1964:  Emergency connection was made with the High Ridge Water Supply company and a booster pump station installed on Railroad Street at a cost of $10,000.  Over the years the Authority has not been required to use this source.  However, High Ridge has connected to the Authorities system for emergency use.  Either Authority now has the capability to draw from each other.

A new garage was constructed at a cost of $10,000 to store trucks, equipment and also provide space for supplies and stock.  A maintenance department and employee area is provided in this building. 

1968:  Office facilities were provided at the garage building and all Authority business has since been conducted at that location.

An in-line pump was installed in the Second Ward to improve service to higher elevation customers at a cost of $9,370.00.

1973:  A new electric motor control center was installed in the pump room of filtration plant and is designed to eventually provide automatic control of the pumps.  The cost was $7,500.00.

1974:  Stock room and equipment storage building was added to the garage and office complex at the Ethel Springs location of the Authority.  Cost $2,485.00

1975:  An in-line pump and 300' of 6" main were added in the First Ward to improve service to higher elevation customers.  These cost were $18,273.00. 

1976:  The office complex at the authority building was enlarged to facilitate the Borough office at a cost of $3,825.00.

1978:  A 12" pipeline from the McGee Run Reservoirs to Ethel Springs Reservoir, chlorination and control building in the ridge and a lower control facility at Ethel Springs Reservoir were completed.  This work was scheduled over an eleven-year period.  Cost $232,340.  Grant monies of $82,500, $124,840 from the Authorities budget and a local bank loan of $25,000 funded this project.

1982:  Meters were installed on the 10" and 12" supply mains from McGee Run Reservoir to allow for accurate measurement of the daily water used by Authority customers.  The average daily consumption is approximately 560,000 gallons daily.

1984:  The entire system was metered.  It is estimated that a 25% reduction in consumption was realized with the metering program.

1986:  Replaced Millwood to Derry pipeline from East First Ave and East Street to the old Millwood School.  6,900’ of 8" C-900 PVC main replaced an unlined 6" cast iron main that was installed in 1890.  Cost $119,316.  A $75,000 Pennsylvania Community Facilities Grant helped finance this project

1987:  Installed a 212,000 gallon water storage tank and related pipe at McGee Run Reservoir at a cost of $156,380.

Installed 2200' of 12" C900 PVC pipeline from East First Ave. to West Fifth Ave. via South Ligonier and South Chestnut Streets.  Cost $156,638. 

A Pennsylvania Community Facilities grant in the amount of $75,000 and a $200,000 loan from the Pennsylvania Water Facilities Loan Board helped finance these projects.

1988:  Installed a second water storage tank and related pipe at McGee Run Reservoir at a cost of $200,000.  Capacity: 560,000 gallons.  A $200,000 Pennsylvania Community Facilities Grant financed the installation.

1989:   A $200,000 low interest Penn-Vest loan was obtained to modernize the water treatment plant.  New control center, valves, filter media and sludge removal equipment were included in the improvements

A $50,000 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources Grant was received to replace a 6" pipeline under the railroad at Chestnut Street with 12" cement line ductile iron pipe.

1990:  A $75,000 Pennsylvania Community Facilities Grant was received to complete the Millwood 6" unlined cast iron pipe (installed 1890) replacement with 8" C900 PVC pipe.  Also 8" cement lined ductile iron pipe was installed through a 15" steel casing under the railroad in Millwood.  In the same project, 1200' of 3" galvanized steel main was replaced with 8" C900 PVC pipe in the village of Seger.  Total cost $100,000.

A $15,000 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources Grant was obtained to help in the cost of connecting the backwash water from the water treatment plant to the sanitary sewer.  This work was done to comply with the clean streams act. 

Approved an additional $16,700 to the 1987 low interest loan towards this project.  The project included installing a 20,000 gallon equalization storage tank to hold the backwash water that is recycled back through the treatment process.  Total cost of these improvements was $45,840.

1991:  A $75,000 Community Facilities Grant was used to replace 2,280' of old mains in the 1st, third and fourth wards.  Included in this replacement were three new fire hydrants.  50 lead service lines were replaced with copper.  Total cost was $110,000

1992:  A new office complex was constructed to improve and modernize the office facilities.  Total cost was $40,000.  Authority personnel completed 75% of the construction and saved $30,000.00 by doing so.  Timber sales financed this project.

1993:  McGee Run Well #1 was put into production.  The Authority Geologist, Casselberry & Associates estimated a flow of 250 GPM, which represents about 25% of the Authorities current requirements.  However the well was a disappointment as the production was much less that estimated and the quality of water was not as good as estimated.  The Authority is able, in the dry season, to take 3 to 4 million gallons per month from the well and transport it to Ethel Springs Reservoir where it is blended with the water at Ethel Springs.  This improves the quality enough to be able to use it.  Total cost including required pipeline was $50,000.

A $75,000 Pennsylvania Community Facilities Grant was received to help fund improvements to the sediment basins at the water treatment plant.  Cost for these improvements was $179,640.

1994:  Received a $45,000 Legislative Initiative grant to extend water service two miles on Pizza Barn road in Derry Township.  To cost for the extension was $80,640.  Customers receiving the water service paid for the balance of cost.

1995:  The Authority received a HUD grant in the amount of $384,000 to construct a 490,000 gallon water storage tank in the village of Atlantic in Derry Township.  Total cost of this project was $434,000.

Received $31,652 in grants from the DEP and the Westmoreland County Community Development programs toward a 6,500 ft. of C900 8" PVC water line extension on Hunter Road in Derry Township.  Total cost of this project was $66,652.  Customers receiving water service paid the difference.

The Authority installed 3700 ft. of 8” C900 PVC pipe along Ankney Road in Derry Township. This $36,775.00 line extension was paid for by customer contributions.

1998:  Received a $20,000 Pennsylvania Economic & Community Development grant to upgrade the Authorities computer system to meet Y2K requirements.

1999:  Installed 5000' of 8" C900 PVC pipe on Pandora road at a cost of $39,808 to serve 9 customers.  Three fire hydrants were also installed.  Customer deposits paid for the extension.

2000: Installed 7330 feet of 8” C900 PVC pipe on Rt. 982 just North of New Derry, PA. This provided water and fire service to the Derry Agriculture Fair location and over a dozen homes along that route. The Derry Township Supervisors provided these funds from a $160,197.40 Community Development Grant.

The Authority borrowed $842,000 from PENNVEST to replace the old water mains in Derry Borough. Lines were replaced on Fifth Avenue, Fourth Avenue, Chestnut Street and Second Street.

New water mains were laid in the Villages of Seger and along Seger Road to Pizza Barn Road in Derry Township.

2001:  Installed 7050 feet of 8” C900 PVC pipe on Baum and Panizzi Roads in the Superior and Pandora areas of Derry Township.  The Derry Township Supervisors provided the funds to complete this $297,725.00 project. The Authority took over ownership of this line and will provide maintenance.

2002:  Installed a water line extension of 900 feet of 8” C900 PVC pipe along Panizzi Road. The Derry Township Supervisors were awarded a PA DEP Grant to provide the $10,000 necessary for this project.  Two families were supplied water. 

Upgraded the Backwash equipment in the Pump house by replacing old steel toughs with new stainless steel troughs. A  legislative grant for $10,000 provided the money for this project.

In the years since the Authority acquired the water system numerous improvements such as water main replacements, metering program, purchase of new equipment and replacement of older equipment, construction of garage and maintenance facilities, construction of office building and many new line extension for new customers have been made.  Improvements to the water treatment plant have always been a top priority.

The original purchase price of the water system was $650,000.  Total assets as of May 31, 2002 are $6,599,933.

The water system consists of 49 miles of pipeline, 131 fire hydrants and 485 valves.  There are 2370 domestic customers, 80 commercial, 12 industrial, 14 municipal and 20 fire customers for a total of 2496.  The Authority serves a population area of approximately 6,500 in Derry Borough and Derry Township.

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