It's probably the worst time to find little or no water pressure. On Sunday, as fire crews hooked up to a hydrant on Please View Drive in Lancaster, with a fully involved garage fire that was also burning part of the home, they quickly lost all water pressure.
"We laid 2,000 feet of hose with three fire engines from Transit Road," explained Bowmansville Fire Chief Tom Trzepacz. "There's a large water main on Transit Road, being commercial and industrial, so we wanted to make sure we had the water supply."
Neighbors have raised concern at town board meetings over the water pressure on Pleasant View Drive before. A group of Lancaster residents opposed to a possible new subdivision nearby say the water system in the neighborhood is already overtaxed by the current homes.
"They don't have the water pressure," Gregory Sojka of Lancaster said. "Yet, they keep building and developing and building more homes. They're overtaxing the water, the sewer, the traffic. It's just too much."
The Erie County Water Authority has a lease agreement with the Town of Lancaster. The town owns the water mains and is responsible for capital improvements on the infrastructure. The ECWA provides service and helps maintain the lines.
"We take that seriously and the demands of this fire were such that it outstripped the capacity of a six inch main," ECWA Deputy Director Bob Lichtenthal said. "We will take a look at having conversations with the Town of Lancaster, with emergency services for the future and we'll take a look to see what improvements can be made."
According to the ECWA, water pressure in that area is 'not the highest pressure in its system' but described it as "adequate". The authority inspects all hydrants it oversees two times per year.
The six inch water main on Pleasant View was installed in 1929, but still has around 10 years of its original estimated useful service life, according to ECWA. This main does not have a history of breaks.
Town Supervisor Johanna Coleman said she has "concerns" with the situation and was reaching out to the ECWA, town engineer and emergency departments to look into the problem.
That proposed subdivision still needs to meet with the Lancaster Planning Board to get the body's recommendation, before any plans can come to a vote before the Town Board. It would be off Stutzman Road, just around the corner from Sunday's fire.
"This is a huge wake up call that we have to do something with our infrastructure," Sojka said. "The time for hesitation is over."
To learn more about the No Stutzman Subdivision group, you can visit the organization's Facebook page here.