Public hearing scheduled to discuss flood plan for Westmoreland County |
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Rich Cholodofsky

A detailed blueprint to reduce flooding throughout Westmoreland County is expected to be approved next month by county commissioners.

A public hearing will be held at 10:30 a.m. May 3 at the courthouse to discuss the Integrated Water Resources Plan, a document that outlines a growing concern about flooding related to stormwater runoff.

“This plan will provide resources for homeowners and municipalities to solve our water problems,” said Jim Pillsbury, a hydraulic engineer with the Westmoreland County Conservation District, the agency tasked with compiling the document.

More than 2,300 miles of streams make up the county’s comprehensive inventory of water resources, including wetlands, groundwater and floodplains, officials said.

Pillsbury said 5% of county land is in the 100-year floodplain and nearly 9,200 residents — or about 2.5% of the county’s population — live in areas that could endure a catastrophic flood every century.

Remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon in September forced PennDOT to close as many as 50 roads across Westmoreland County. Heavy rains last June caused flooding issues in many areas of the county, particularly in communities bordering Loyalhanna Creek: Ligonier, Cook, Latrobe and Derry.

The proposed water resources plan identifies areas that are susceptible to flooding and includes interactive maps, resources and potential solutions, Pillsbury said.

The work was compiled by planners and conservation district staffers, an advisory committee of 40 to 50 members, engineers and other water resources experts. It was paid for from a portion of a $300,000 grant the conservation district received from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

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