Work will correct storm-sewer problems on 2 Irwin streets

| Wednesday, June 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Irwin officials plan to spend up to $140,000 this summer to correct storm-water problems on two borough streets.

The work, which still must be put out for competitive bidding, will be done primarily along Highland Avenue between Penglyn and Cherokee Streets, according to borough engineer Lucien Bove.

“Over the years, we've received numerous complaints from residents in that area about runoff during heavy rainfalls that ends up flooding driveways and other parts of their properties and has caused the road to deteriorate,” Bove said.

Workers will install catch basins and add storm drains that also will serve as a detention system to slowly release the water, and crews will repair storm-sewer lines that have collapsed, he said.

A problem with water “ponding” on the surface of Conley Drive also will be corrected with the addition of catch basins and other drainage improvements, Bove said.

The damaged storm sewer lines near Highland were discovered earlier this year when video cameras were used to inspect about 40,000 feet of sanitary sewer lines, some 200 manholes and about 1,000 feet of storm-sewer line in the borough, Bove said.

Inspecting sewer lines is one of the ways the municipality can comply with the a 2012 federal consent agreement between the state Department of Environmental Resources and the Western Westmoreland Municipal Authority, which serves Irwin.

Water that seeps into Irwin's sanitary sewer lines during storms or when snow and ice melts quickly overburdens WWMA's sewage-treatment plants and results in the release of untreated sewage into Brush Creek, according water authority officials.

The agreement requires municipalities to take steps to keep sewage out of waterways.

Money for the work on Highland and Conley Drive — which will coincide with the borough's road resurfacing program to avoid having to dig into freshly paved streets — will be paid for with money collected since the borough began phasing in annual increases in sewer rates in 2010, according to borough Manager Mary Benko.

The borough has been using revenue from the rate increases to repay about $6 million borrowed five years ago through a low-interest loan program offered by the state.

That loan was combined with $1.6 million in grant money to split Irwin's combined sanitary- and storm-water lines into two separate systems, which was a major step toward complying with the federal mandate to reduce the infiltration into sanitary lines, Bove said.

To further resolve the infiltration problem, the borough in January agreed to sell nearly 10 acres it owns along Ridinger Park Road across from the sewage-treatment plant so the sewage authority could build a tank to hold the mixture of storm water and sewage until it can be treated properly.

The sewer plant in Irwin treats about 4.5 million gallons of sewage a day. When construction of the new tank is completed, it will be able to hold up to 5.2 million gallons of sewage until it can be processed at the plant.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at

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