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DEP, Hempfield hit wall on flood prevention

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The state Department of Environmental Resources and Hempfield have reached an impasse over a plan to prevent flooding in the West Point neighborhood.

State and township officials met last week in Pittsburgh to discuss the problem. The state gave the township the option of withdrawing their proposal, said DEP spokesman John Poister.

“The township indicated to us they probably will withdraw their permit application .... because it just doesn't meet out technical specifications,” he said.

Doug Weimer, chairman of the board of supervisors, said the township will not withdraw its proposal.

“We feel there aren't any more changes we can make and we're waiting for permit approval,” he said.

The permit process has been bandied between the state and township for several years, with Hempfield making a number of revisions to pacify the state or simply allow the DEP to reject it. Those changes have increased the project's costs from $1.8 million to $2 million.

Residents of Newport and Stamford drives have been plagued by flooding from an unnamed stream — a tributary of Township Line Creek — since 2007.

The DEP has refused to issue a permit for the project because of environmental concerns after a township study found the stream is inhabited by spineless aquatic life called macroinvertebrates.

Hempfield wanted to install pipes under residents' property to allow water to flow into a retention pond. The DEP wanted the township to develop step pools on each property that would contain the storm water, thereby establishing aquatic habitats. The water would slowly evaporate over time. Step pools are found naturally in mountain streams, with spacing that leads to a staircase-like appearance along a waterway.

Hempfield obtained rights of way from property owners based on a presentation that explained a piping system will be installed. Residents oppose the step pools and will not grant new easements to the township to build them.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292.

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