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Sewerline requirement complaints continue in Lower Burrell

| Monday, Aug. 1, 2016, 11:30 p.m.
Nick Tutolo stands in his yard where a white flag marks where sewer line work will take place at his Lower Burrell house along Reimer Street on Saturday, July 16, 2016.   Tutolo, who is selling his house, had to camera test his sewer lines and fix problems to prevent stormwater from infiltrating the sewer system as part of a new Lower Burrell requirement for home sales.
Jason Bridge | Tribune-Review
Nick Tutolo stands in his yard where a white flag marks where sewer line work will take place at his Lower Burrell house along Reimer Street on Saturday, July 16, 2016. Tutolo, who is selling his house, had to camera test his sewer lines and fix problems to prevent stormwater from infiltrating the sewer system as part of a new Lower Burrell requirement for home sales.

Complaints to Lower Burrell Council continued Monday about a new requirement that homes for sale must have sewerlines pass a camera inspection, and the complaints are likely to continue when council meets again next Monday.

On June 1, the city implemented a measure that required prospective home sellers to have their lateral lines inspected before a sale could take place.

Real estate agents and home sellers say they were caught off guard by the new requirements, but city officials said meetings have occurred over the last several years and the proposal had been the subject of several newspaper articles.

“But, I don't buy the newspaper,” said resident Jeri Tutelo. “You threw this on us, and it's hurting real estate agents and their livelihoods. This should have been done more meticulously.”A meeting was held last week with plumbers, real estate agents and homeowners to go over the new requirement.

Solicitor Stephen Yakopec explained that the move was part of a state and federal mandate designed to eliminate stormwater infiltrating the sewage system. The goal is to reduce 40 percent of the stormwater over the next 17 years.

Yakopec added that Lower Burrell and other municipalities could be fined $250,000 daily for not complying with the unfunded mandate.

The prospective home seller also is responsible for the cost of fixing their system, particularly the laterals that extend from the homes to the hookup with the main sewage lines. In many instances, roots and cracks are appearing in terra cotta pipe that was popular in the 1950s and '60s, when public sewerage was first brought to Lower Burrell.

Residents and professionals asked for a delay in implementation since there is a 17-year window to comply and none of the other cities served by the New Kensington Sanitary Authority have implemented similar standards.

Public Works Director Scott Johnson said flow monitoring is beginning in the sixth year of the plan and there are instances when terra cotta pipe can be lined from the inside instead of replacing the entire pipe.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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