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Water company, neighbors discuss Liberty tank issues

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

Pennsylvania-American Water Co. officials met privately on Tuesday with neighbors unhappy about the water storage tank rehabilitation project in Liberty.

“The company has invested more than $250,000 in new pipe improvements projects in the borough since 2011 and has always partnered to mitigate any foreseen inconveniences as a result of our projects,” spokesman Gary Lobaugh said afterward.

He said the Liberty work was one of 25 projects into which PAWC invested $8.5 million “during the past two years alone,” and the work that began May 17 in Liberty was the first “in recent memory” where any issues were reported or concerns raised.

“When this water tank was built (in 1992), the residents of Jeffrey Drive wrote letters, signed petitions and attended council meetings to protest its construction,” Jerry and Marcy Cendroski said in a statement provided to The Daily News before the meeting.

The Cendroskis said PAWC did not notify residents about the recent work until five days after the 560,000-gallon tank was drained, causing damage to their home.

“The draining of water storage tanks, when needed, is considered a typical pre-construction activity,” Lobaugh said. “Mrs. Cendroski and the other neighbors were provided notification prior to the start of construction and not the draining of the tank.”

Another neighbor attending the meeting in Liberty's municipal building did not have damage to his property.

However, Rich Yandrlic said, drains took the water away from his house and into a nearby stream that flows into the Youghiogheny River.

“That took water I had straight out,” Yandrlic said. “I had no water damage at all.”

Those attending the meeting had no complaints about the work since the tank was drained.

“All remarked that they were pleased with the work of our contractor,” Lobaugh said. “Weather permitting, the project is scheduled for completion in late July.”

There have been water pressure problems, others told The Daily News. Fliers handed out to neighbors along Jeffrey Drive advised that PAWC did not “anticipate any disruptions” but added that “customers may experience a slight reduction in water pressure while the tank is not in service.”

Previously, PAWC spokeswoman Josephine Posti said the aim of the work was “to make sure we are maintaining adequate flow,” especially when fires draw on that supply or during peak times, both in a 24-hour cycle and at different times of the year.

“Pennsylvania-American Water agreed to send council a status report regarding our investigation into these issues for the (July 17 council voting) meeting,” Lobaugh said.

Borough councilors Jesse Paradise, Lavina Kerklo and S. Larry Sikorski also attended the meeting, which was closed to the public.

Citing possible Sunshine Law concerns, council vice president Ron Pope came to the municipal building but did not attend the session.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967.