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

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