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Delmont pinpoints areas of stormwater infiltration

Patrick Varine
| Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 12:42 p.m.
A mixture of raw sewage and storm water gushed from a Delmont Borough manhole on the Rock Springs Trust property in Salem on Friday, June 23, 2017. Delmont public works crews recently made repairs to correct a damaged sewage line and a faulty storm sewer in an effort to eliminate the inflow and infiltration of storm water into their infrastructure.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
A mixture of raw sewage and storm water gushed from a Delmont Borough manhole on the Rock Springs Trust property in Salem on Friday, June 23, 2017. Delmont public works crews recently made repairs to correct a damaged sewage line and a faulty storm sewer in an effort to eliminate the inflow and infiltration of storm water into their infrastructure.

Delmont public works officials have discovered at least two things contributing to the infiltration of storm water into their infrastructure.

Through closed-circuit televising of the sewer line running through the Rock Springs Trust property in Salem Township — where manholes have regularly been discharging a mix of storm water and sewage during moderate to heavy rain — public works crews found that a section of the line was damaged in an area where energy company Dominion has a right-of-way for its gas line.

Borough engineer Gary Baird said work on the gas line “crushed parts of the pipe — public works did fix that part of the line.”

Dominion Media Specialist Robert Fulton said Dominion was not aware or was not been notified about damage to the sewer line.

“The natural gas pipeline in that location was installed approximately five years ago and Dominion was aware of the location of the sewer line during installation,” Fulton wrote in an email.

Fulton added that if it's determined that the gas line's construction contributed to the sewer pipe damage, Dominion “will do whatever is necessary to resolve the problem.”

Crews also discovered an under-street storm sewer which was not properly coupled as the line size changed from 6 to 8, and eventually to 12 inches.

“Those pipes filled with mud and dirt over the years, and so (public works head) Bill (Heaps) had to replace that entire pipe,” Councilman Dave Weber said.

Weber, who is a member of the borough's sewage committee, is working with Heaps to “chase this inflow and infiltration” of storm water.

“That was a big find for us,” he said. “It won't solve all the problems, but chasing that infiltration is what we're after.”

Baird said the next step is to continue running closed-circuit video through the sewage line between the Rock Springs Trust property and the nearby Cramer pump station.

“If it's anything like the sewage line on the Rebitch property, we'll see several sections with a sag where the proper amount of fill material was not in place underneath,” Baird said.

Borough officials are also working with resident Bob Burton, whose Barrington Ridge property, located above the Rock Springs Trust parcel, was originally meant to serve as a storm water retention area. Burton previously told council he is willing to allow the use of his property for that purpose.

“We're looking at what we can install on this property, given the area we have there,” Baird said.

Julie Rebitch, a member of the Rock Springs Trust, emphasized the serious issues related to overflows, discharges and storm water infiltration.

“The tributary that runs behind the borough building and down along the Christy Road bridge has moved 20 feet in the past 15 years,” she said. “That is the effect of the storm water runoff. Mr. Burton's offer, while extremely generous, will not solve anything.”

Burton said the notion behind his offer was to merely slow the flow of storm water from the Barrington Ridge development.

“The idea was to hold it for a little while, and then release it slowly,” he said.

Councilman David Piper said Delmont's issues are mirrored both regionally and nationally.

“It's reflective of what's happening in the country right now in terms of infrastructure,” Piper said.

Meanwhile, borough officials continue to work with their engineering firm to isolate and repair infiltration issues.

Baird said repairing the crushed pipe on the Rock Springs Trust property was “not a full fix. It's certainly a contributor, but it's not going to solve all of the infiltration issues.”

Rebitch said she cannot believe it has been allowed to happen for nearly two decades.

“We send people to poor areas of Central America and north Africa to educate them about not dumping waste into their drinking water supply, and that is what Delmont Borough is doing right here in the United States of America,” she told council.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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