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Carnegie residents point to project as flooding cause

| Tuesday, July 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Lee Cabalik has seen water fill her yard and basement so many times in past years that she now speaks of it with resignation.

“The whole front yard gets filled up,” said Cabalik, who lives on Frankin Avenue in Carnegie. “It comes into my flower beds. It comes up on my porch, all the way up to the door. Luckily, the water in the past has caused the porch to sink away from the house, so I don't get flooded on the first floor.”

But the most recent round on June 28 sent water into her basement, soaking carpet she had installed after flooding last summer.

Cabalik said she didn't have water problems before a 2011 Allegheny County Sanitary Authority project redirected a small creek that flowed from Carnegie Park from a sanitary sewer into a separate stormwater line. The water runs under Franklin Avenue to a line at the corner with Charles Street.

Many residents of Franklin and California avenues expressed similar sentiments at a July 14 Carnegie Council meeting, and afterward.

“Conceptually, it sounds like it should not have added to their problem and, if anything, improved it,” said Jan Oliver, director of regional conveyance at ALCOSAN.

She said the project was limited in location. “And sometimes the problem with that is, in a large network, you don't know how one thing is impacting another,” she said.

Cabalik and other residents say their properties were not regraded properly after the work, leading to the intense water runoff and pooling in their yards.

“They did not regrade any of our yards back to the way they were before the project,” Cabalik said. “To me, that's the number one reason for water issues we have.”

Council President Pat Catena said the flooding problems along the Franklin/California/Washington corridor go beyond any improper grading done during the Franklin Avenue project.

“We need to look at our problems holistically because the night of the flooding, there were multiple areas of concern that led to the flooding,” he said.

California Avenue resident Cheryl Covi-Stephan told council that if action had been taken years ago, “We would not be in this situation. You make it sound like this is never going to happen again. It has. It will.”

Oliver said the authority did have to do construction on residential properties, but any yard disturbance would have been resolved through landscaping rehabilitation. She also pointed out that recent rains have been heavier than normal.

She said Carnegie's engineering firm, KLH Engineers Inc., has been in contact with the authority, and the project engineers intend to meet with KLH to see what could be causing the problems.

Catena said borough officials have been working with KLH to attempt to solve the matter, for all possible scenarios.

“This would include any complications from the stream removal project, but also the other sources of storm water and drainage issues,” he said.

The borough and engineers are planning a public meeting for 6 p.m. Aug. 20 at the borough building. Catena said the meeting will be advertised once the date is confirmed.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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