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Responsibility uncertain for flow of water from Beechview spring

| Sunday, April 21, 2013, 12:20 a.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Water pours from a natural spring discovered after a house was torn down at 1320 Belasco Avenue in Beechview, Saturday, April 20th, 2013.

Water from a natural spring that was unearthed in Beechview last fall when the city ordered the demolition of a home is leaving its muddy mark.

But city officials don't see a quick resolution to what has turned into a complicated problem.

The flow onto the 1300 block of Belasco Avenue began after the city hired a contractor late last year to raze the condemned house, said Rob Kaczorowski, Pittsburgh's public works director.

The underground spring fed into a pipe that was connected to the city sewer system. During demolition, the pipe was disconnected, he said.

The flow of water caused icy conditions during the winter and a stream of mud down the street since the spring thaw, said Adam Shuck, who handles constituent services for District 4 Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak.

“It's a real mess out there, for sure,” he said. “But the problem hasn't been fixed because nobody seems to know who's responsible for doing it.”

Kaczorowski said the city initially believed the source of the flow was from a city water line, but testing determined it was spring water.

“My feeling is that the contractor should go back and reconnect the pipe,” he said. “But if we're told that public works needs to do it, then that's what we'll do.”

But John Jennings of the Bureau of Building Inspection, which hired the contractor, said it is illegal to reconnect sources of water into a combined sanitary and storm sewer system.

“We also can't cap it off because the water would just find its way somewhere else and cause a bigger problem,” he said. “So we're at the point where we need to meet with the city law department to determine what we legally can do to correct this.”

Rudiak said she spoke with a neighbor along the street who suggested piping the water into a small creek bed that runs near his home.

“I think that's the most logical solution I've heard,” she said. “I don't know if that's the answer, but if it can work, I'd like to help facilitate it.”

Jennings and Kaczorowski agree that redirecting the water in such a way might be a solution.

But there is a catch, Jennings said.

“The pipe where the spring water comes out is on private property, and the pipe that would go to the creek will have to cross another private property,” he said. “So we'd still have to get legal permission from both property owners before we can proceed.”

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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