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Stakeholder groups to meet again as Derry Township eyes flooding remedies

October 3, 2018
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Derry Township officials are proposing development of a water retention pond in the area at the right on this map of the grounds of Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center and environs.

Derry Township officials are considering ways to address a deteriorating storm drainage system on Raymond Avenue while hoping for grant funds for a proposed water retention pond.

Those potential projects are part of efforts meant to control storm runoff that has contributed to recent flash flooding in the Sulphur Run watershed, where the township borders the northeastern end of the City of Latrobe.

Raymond Avenue resident Rick Rupert, at Tuesday’s township supervisors meeting, questioned whether the drainage system is structurally sound.

Wing walls for a drainage pipe inlet on Raymond are starting to deteriorate and eventually will need replaced, according to Supervisor Dave Slifka.

As for the pipe, he said, “Structurally, as of a month or so ago, it was fine, but what’s going to happen down the years if we have storm after storm? These major storms are obviously going to be a factor in the structural strength of the pipe.

“It can’t handle the flow of water anymore, there’s so much water that comes through there.”

He said the supervisors are consulting with the township engineer, Gibson-Thomas, on options for the pipe and hope to reach a decision in the next few weeks.

Increasing the size of the pipe and tying in other drainage areas are options that have been discussed, Slifka said, but the implications for areas downstream in Latrobe have to be considered.

“We want to make sure we make the best possible, safest move,” Slifka said.

Any improvement to the pipe could take several months to design, he noted.

The supervisors want to develop a water retention pond on the grounds behind the Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center to help corral and slow down water runoff before it makes it downhill to the area of Raymond Avenue. The township is seeking state grants for the project but could move forward without them, Slifka said.

Officials with the technology center have been receptive to the idea, he said.

The township met in September with representatives from other interested parties - including the city of Latrobe, the municipal authorities of Latrobe and Derry Township, the Westmoreland Conservation District, the Loyalhanna Watershed Association and local legislators - to begin a dialogue aimed at alleviating the flooding along Sulphur Run.

The meeting went well and another is planned for Oct. 24, Slifka said, with the state Department of Environmental Protection among additional entities that are being invited to participate.

Given the local topography, with an area of more than one square mile draining toward Sulphur Run, storm management projects won’t entirely eliminate flooding problems, Slifka noted.

Ellen Keefe, who sits on the boards of both the Latrobe and Derry Township authorities, said there are indications the Sulphur Run meetings may continue on a monthly basis.

Continuing development over the years likely has contributed to the local flooding woes, Keefe said.

“So much infrastructure was built up, there was nowhere for the water to be absorbed into the ground,” she said. “Now we’re looking for some ways to capture that storm runoff to alleviate these flooding problems.”

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