White Oak wants sewage backup problems addressed | TribLIVE.com

White Oak wants sewage backup problems addressed

Rich Cholodofsky
Dirt covers the playground along Mapleton Avenue after severe flooding left homes along 13th, 14th and 15th Streets filled with water and sewage, in Jeannette, on Tuesday, July 16, 2019.

White Oak officials said Friday the borough’s residents have had enough with the torrential rains that has repeatedly resulted in basements flooded with sewage.

“What’s happening is pitiful,” Councilman Steven Pholar told members of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County at the start of the agency’s July meeting of its board of directors. “We are not blaming you, but it is a problem that needs to be fixed.”

Borough officials said that as many have 50 homes in the small Allegheny County community have routinely seen basements inundated with water and waste as the town’s sewer system continues to overflow during times of heavy rains. It’s a problem that has persisted for years with little to no corrective measures being implemented, they contend.

“We have some people who are really hurting, citizens with literally a wall of water in their basements,” said Councilman Lou Bender.

Last week’s storms, which dumped more than 4 inches of rain in the region, prompted White Oak officials to issue a disaster declaration to deal with sewer backups and flooding in local homes.

White Oak officials said they want answers.

“We need to find out quickly what the problem is and what are the solutions,” Pholar said.

The MAWC purchased White Oak’s sewer system in 2007 for $3.2 million. It is one of a handful of sewer operations the county utility owns in the region.

Authority officials said Friday that tests are ongoing in White Oak to determine the source of the sewer backups but suggested the flooding was likely the result of issues related to the homeowner’s properties rather than the water and sewer lines operated by the utility.

And the testing could take time, said MAWC manager Michael Kukura.

“We understand the hardship, but there has to be a process to play out,” Kukura said.

Officials said the authority took a similar tact several years ago to address water backups and flooding in Youngwood and Avonmore, two other municipalities in which it operates sewer systems. Last week’s rains resulted in no issues with those local sewer systems, Kukura said.

Recent flooding problems that have plagued Jeannette will be addressed with a $15 million planned upgrade to the city’s sewer system that is expected to be completed in 2022, officials said. The county authority purchased the Jeannette sewer system in 2015.

The issues in Jeannette, officials said, are related to stress on the city’s system that is worsened because in some areas the same pipes are used for storm water runoff in addition to the sewer lines.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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