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Mt. Pleasant stormwater basin work is ongoing on hospital-owned land

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant Journal
Crewmen from Custom Contracting of Acme stop to measure the ditch for a stormwater drainage basin being constructed on property owned by Excela Health Frick Hospital near the hospital's Reservoir Street parking lot in Mt. Pleasant on Monday, Jan. 21, 2013. Kelly Vernon | Mt. Pleasant Journal

During periods of heavy rain, Mt. Pleasant resident Jenny Lumley said she and her family have experienced a relatively mild amount of flooding in the basement of their Reservoir Street home in the borough.

“Just a minimal amount, really, nothing major,” Lumley said.

However, Lumley added that stormy weather has often wreaked havoc on the canopy of trees overlooking her property on nearby land owned by Excela Health Frick Hospital.

“Every time we'd have a bad storm, we'd have trees or branches falling down in our yard,” Lumley said.

Now, work currently being done by Acme-based Custom Contracting to construct a massive stormwater drainage basin on the hospital's property has addressed both issues for Lumley, she said.

“They cleared out all of those trees, so that's good,” Lumley said. “And it's a good thing, I think, to have the work being done.”

The $138,000 project — located on hospital property near the facility's Reservoir Street parking lot — represents the most expansive work to date as part of the borough's rain garden initiative.

The initiative is financed by a total of approximately $750,000 in funds provided by the state Department of Environmental Protection through Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act. It involves Westmoreland Conservation District officials, who are working with the borough and the hospital to see the basin project through to its completion.

“That is, by far, the largest control of stormwater to be installed in the borough as a result of this funding,” district watershed specialist Rob Cronauer said of the basin that will measure 130 feet wide, 80 feet long and 7 feet deep.

“Essentially, it's a hole in the ground and, when it's really raining hard, it becomes a pond,” he said.

During periods of heavy rainwater flow, the basin will be able to hold approximately 500,000 gallons of water and let out that water at controlled rate, Cronauer said.

“Excela Health is pleased to be part of the rain garden project in Mt. Pleasant. Not only is the end result environmentally wise, but the project also allows us to be a good neighbor,” said Robin Jennings, Excela Health spokesperson.

In 2010, the borough became the first municipality in Pennsylvania to install residential rain gardens — a unique form of landscaping highlighted by perennial shrubs, flowers and small trees designed with the purpose of capturing and utilizing stormwater runoff in a way many describe as environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

District officials aided the borough in the installation the rain gardens in the yards of about 40 residents in the borough's Ramsay Terrace neighborhood who reported a history of flooding problems.

The project's first phase involved the creation of gardens near the public library and borough building and in the Levin Furniture parking lots.

“When you're in a town like this, we have to do the best with what we have, which is to retrofit to minimize some stormwater flooding issues,” said Jeff Landy, the borough's manager. “The state and federal government said one way to do so is to install rain gardens, so that's what we're doing.”

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or

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