Alcosan, PWSA Address Flash Flooding On Washington Blvd.

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Washington Boulevard in Highland Park is the focus of local officials after four people died in a flash flood.

Shortly after the rain stopped, the water went down fairly quickly. Officials from Alcosan and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority believe that’s because the storm sewers themselves – the main sewer which is 9-feet in diameter through this area – was open and flowing freely.

It was the storm drains on the side of the road that actually became clogged. On Monday, they came in with a private contractor and siphoned the mud and debris out of each drain.

“These were recently cleaned,” Bob Scott, with JetJack, Inc., said. “Probably about three weeks ago.”

At the same time, Alcosan sat down with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. They looked at their maps, drawings and charts and determined their systems were what they were supposed to be.

They also determined that all of the systems were open and running freely prior to Friday’s storm. Television cameras were sent into the 9-foot and the 8.5-foot storm sewers under Washington Boulevard and found them, “in good condition without clogs or breaks.”

There was a storm back on July 18 which caused flooding on Washington Boulevard. On July 22 and July 25, the storm drains along Washington Boulevard were cleaned out.

KDKA’s John Shumway reports the system was open and running until Friday when the storm moved in.

Alcosan and the PWSA are saying it was a situation with too much rain, too fast and the system wasn’t capable of handling it. They are calling it a 100-year storm.

“It’s simply too much rain in too short of a time and not being able to drain because once the rain stopped, the water did drain and drain rather quickly,” Mary Barylak, a spokesperson for Alcosan, said.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields believes PWSA’s lack of maintenance elsewhere is to blame.

“If you’re not taking stuff into storm sewers and it’s not performing up above, it’s just going to keep going down into that valley one way or another whether it’s by the storm drains themselves – most of that stuff is going to be on the surface rather than being captured by a system,” he said.

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

More from John Shumway
  • S&S

    WHY WASN’T SOMETHING DONE ABOUT THIS SINCE IT JUST HAPPENED IN JULY?????!!!!!!! It was a similar situation in July and thank God nothing happened but when it happened in July, WAS THERE AN INVESTIGATION OF THE SYSTEM? Just b/c you have PennDot come in and place new asphalt on the road does not mean that the problem was solved.

    So Don’t tell me not to point fingers Ms. Williams, when my daughter just lost a good friend and will have to see a grief counselor.. and a great family lost THREE special people all at once!
    SOMETHING SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE. Both Alcosan & PSWA SHOULD be held responsible. The public was not warned about how dangerous this road is. HOW AREN’T THEY RESPONSIBLE?!! Somebody needs to look into this. I am certain that I am NOT the only one with this question.

  • Mel

    IT wasn’t a 100 year flood. In 1951 it happened; in 1952 (woman drowned) AND AGAIN in 1952 50 cars were stranded. Nothing was done. In 1955 the budget was shot down to fix the problem. It is a big safety issue. In 1954 the newspaper headline said something similar to”it’s 1954, Let’s do something about …Washington Blvd.” 100 year flood my foot. I’ll be the first to point fingers.

  • jenn

    My girlfriend lost her mother, you cannot imagine the nightmare she is going through… and the young mother and her two daughters. I was in shock this morning when I came into work and found out that my friend’s mother was killed. She was on the phone with her when it happened… Everyone will be blaming the other and nothing will get done, watch and see… what a shame. Come on City of Pittsburgh, PWSA, Mayor Ravenstahl, all the powers be, get off your duffs and get something done, the people are sick of nothing getting done… In fact a month ago Doug Shields and Theresa Smith got into the same heated discussion on City channel.

  • Jeff Samson

    Typical of government agencies. Nobody wants to put the blame on somebody else. If the systems are doing what they are supposed to do then why does 4 inches of water sit on the road when there is only a light rain. Why is it that your system, that was “open and running” and “what they were supposed to be” couldn’t handle the water that is in an area that basically is a CATCH BASIN? Would these systems work on a road in a flat terrain… yeah. But that area of Washington Blvd is basically like the ‘bathtub’ on the Parkway. It’s got steep hills on either side, a steep embankment of the roadway up past the fire training center, and two steep embankments coming down on the Highland Park Bridge side. If you honestly believe, Arletta Williams, that the PWSA systems are adequate for the typography for that stretch of Washington Blvd then I would like to see you drive your car through there the next time we have a 100 year flood… 2 or 3 years from now.

  • Marty's Insider

    Close the road! And shut up all these media engineers!!!!!!!! That was a massive amount of rain in a short period of time……….that much rain would have flooded Heinz Field you morons

  • Lawrence Robinson

    Here is my problem, It seems like they are trying really hard to confuse people by saying it’s working as it’s designed. I think the problem is the rainwater should just go directly to the river, but it doesn’t.I think the sewers are combined, and thats why it can’t handle the water. i noticed they make huge efforts to hide this fact, saying “not for flood control” and etc… like dodging the questions.

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