Shaler officials discuss how improvements have helped with flooding issues
Shaler officials had recent heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Gordon on their minds during a Sept. 11 commissioners meeting.
Township engineer Matt Sebastian said that during the inclement weather and its aftermath he saw positive results from repairs to Shaler’s storm drain system.
“I am seeing that what we put in is working as intended,” he said. “So, we are seeing some real improvements in some areas that in the past have been trouble spots. And when things have come up, like minor sink holes coming out of damaged pipes, we are fixing those quickly, and we’re seeing the results of that.”
Anthony Ferderbar, Shaler Villa Volunteer Fire Company chief, said that Saxonburg Boulevard residents have experienced basement flooding for years.
“The sewer systems are extremely outdated: They are old brick manholes with terracotta piping and the groundwater is just infiltrating into the system and just flooding everybody’s houses with sewage water and ground water,” Ferderbar said.
Township Manager Tim Rogers said that Shaler spends between $750,000 and $1 million annually on sewer projects and that the trunk main pipe is in “pretty good shape.” This large pipe receives wastewater from tributaries and delivers bulk of the water to another area of the system.
Rogers said that Sebastian issued a contract a couple of weeks ago for the removal of Pine Creek debris that could cause backups.
The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission fined the township $500 for removing silt and sediment in the portion of Pine Creek near Route 8, behind Burger King.
“They just don’t want us dredging, and that stream behind those houses is filling up with debris. We have been told you are not allowed to go in there,” Rogers said.
Rogers explained that the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority’s main trunk line, which he said is half blocked with debris, runs through the Allegheny River.
“Etna is one of the low points in the Alcosan system. When flow goes to Etna in heavy rains, it stops. So, the whole system backs up.”
A plan may involve Alcosan building tunnels to access and clear debris from its trunk main, Rogers said. Until then, he said the township is dealing with flooding the best it can, but it is “a long-term project.”
Saxonburg Boulevard residents may install and maintain backflow preventers which prevent contaminants from entering the water supply at their own expense.
Additionally, Rogers said he learned Sept. 11 about a 20-foot by 40-foot landslide from a hillside off East Sutter Road.
“It’s not a very big one, but it will take out the road if we don’t do something to correct it.”
The township filed a notice with its solicitor to start the work on an emergency basis without undergoing the standard bid process. Sebastian said Sept. 12 that Allison Park-based Francis Excavating would handle the project.
In other news: * Shaler’s garbage collection contract with Carnegie-based Collection Services will end this year, so the township requested new refuse collection bids.
Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill would save residents anywhere from $27 the first year to $57 the fifth year, by increasing the scale based on the upper and lower bids, Rogers said.
He conducted a background check on the company and found that it is in “excellent financial condition.” Four municipalities gave the business good recommendations.
Belle Vernon-based Westmoreland Sanitary Landfill recently entered the municipal waste business after focusing on the oil and gas industry, according to Rogers. His main concern is if the company can handle the “depth of business” that Shaler would offer.
Company representatives will appear before the commissioners at their committee meeting 6:30 p.m. Sept. 25. Rogers has scheduled a full board meeting for the purposes of discussing the contract, with the garbage collection issue set as the evening’s first agenda item.
Furthermore, Shaler residents will not recycle glass or plastics beyond those labeled with a “1” or “2” after Jan. 1 because, Rogers said, “there is no market for either of those products.”
* The board recognized Commissioner James Boyle for recently concluding his service as the Shaler-Hampton EMS’ acting business manager.
“Mr. Boyle, who used to be with PNC Bank and is obviously good with numbers, offered his time and service to serve temporarily for the finance officer there (with Shaler-Hampton EMS), and I know he did an outstanding job,” said board President David Shutter.
“Jim’s work is amazing. It really is. When he puts numbers before us they are extremely well thought out, always vetted very thoroughly they are always very accurate,” said board Vice President and Shaler-Hampton EMS board chairman William Cross. “You can always count on him, and we really appreciate the work he’s done for us.”
* Commissioner Thomas McElhone mentioned the Sept. 7 death of George Butela, who served as the Shaler Villa Volunteer Fire Company chief for 34 years and as a member for 60. He also helped with the formation of the Shaler EMS.
“I would just like to extend our condolences to the family and thank George and his family for the many years of service to the township he provided,” McElhone said
Rogers said that Butela “provided a great service to the township.”
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.