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Harmar to combat flooding problem on Guys Run Road

October 3, 2018

The Harmar Township municipal building.

Residents in the 800 block of Guys Run Road in Harmar will soon have some relief from persistent flooding that has plagued the area in recent years.

Township supervisors are moving forward with an emergency project to install devices called backflow preventers to stop flooding in that area by rerouting water back through the main sewer line.

“It will let water flow one direction, but then when the water pressure pushes against it it’s going to stop it,” said township engineer Matt Pitsch.

Pitsch said the main sewer line that runs down the middle of Guys Run Road becomes overwhelmed during heavy storms and water starts overwhelming lateral lines that run to individual properties. When the lateral lines become overwhelmed, residents can end up with more than a foot of water in their basements because there’s nowhere else for that water to go.

Pitsch said officials hope to have the project finished by the end of the year, but are waiting for legal agreements with all of the homeowners in that area. Legal agreements are needed because the township will have to access private property to install the devices.

The cost of the project hasn’t been officially set, but Pitsch estimated it could run about $2,000 per backflow preventer and about 16 are needed.

Because it’s an emergency project, the township can avoid the bidding process and instead just get quotes from contractors.

Pitsch said it’s hard to know how the main line gets overwhelmed, but it’s likely a combination of heavy rains, small cracks that allow water to seep in and houses that have their down spouts running into the line.

The line is supposed to be fixed as part of a $65 million project the Allegheny Valley Joint Sewage Authority has designed to fix sanitary sewage overflows that happen when it rains, but it’s going to be at least four years before that project is finished.

“We couldn’t allow these residents to just sit and wait until upgrades can be done,” Pitsch said.

Joseph Yaken, who lives in the 800 block of Guys Run Road, said he’s dealt with basement flooding for years. He said about 3 feet of water filled his basement once several years ago after hurricane remnants dumped heavy rain on the area and water has risen to his first basement step a couple of times this year.

“I’ve wanted to sell my house, but no one wanted the indoor swimming pool,” Yaken, 78, said.

Yaken said township officials posted notice of the project on his door.

“I’m glad they’re finally doing something about this,” Yaken said.

Supervisor Bob Exler said the township gets calls about flooding issues all the time, but there isn’t always a solution the township can provide. He said in this instance it was directly related to a sewer issue, which falls under the township’s jurisdiction.

“We thought it was the right thing to do,” Exler said.

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