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Residents frustrated over stormwater problems in Waynesboro

July 27, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Residents with houses flooded by inefficiencies in stormwater and sewer systems were assured Wednesday that the Waynesboro Borough Council will take steps to mitigate the problems.

Nine people told the council about stormwater shooting six feet in the air, the smell of sewage lingering in a block of West Fifth Street, yards deluged by several feet of standing water and sewage pumped from basements.

The majority of those residents live near the system that handles two-thirds of all stormwater from the Borough of Waynesboro. That system is especially faulty in the southern portion of the borough just before water is sent to the East Branch of the Antietam Creek, they said.

"We've got to do something. We can't go back and correct what wasn't done years ago, but we can surely move forward," Councilman Dick George said.

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Director of Borough Engineering Kevin Grubbs agreed to present a detailed report of recommendations to the council at its Aug. 16 meeting, which will then be followed by a forum with concerned residents.

Grubbs and neighbors say the problems have been worsened by increased development. The system's designers might not have ever guessed that the town would have "virtually every square inch covered with blacktop and buildings," Dick Rose of 118 W. Fifth St. said.

"We keep building and building. All that water has to go somewhere," Rose said.

"The threats to our homes is very real," Steven Bumbaugh of 832 Maple St. said in a presentation he made on behalf of three households.

He described how they anxiously watch weather reports for predictions of rain of even "a normal and routine variety."

"Our nerves are frazzled living in this fear," he said.

Bumbaugh said his group was "outraged" that previous complaints/concerns were "primarily ignored" and that the borough installed three 48-inch corrugated pipes under South Church Street in 1999. Those pipes reduced the flow capacity by 81 percent, according to a 2004 letter from a contracted engineer.

Four flooding incidents have meant financial losses "in the six-figure range" for the three households, Bumbaugh said.

Rose said he has spent hundreds of dollars to repair his swimming pool and is looking at several thousand dollars more to elevate parts of his property.

"We've had some problems for some time with (the sewer system) backing up," Rose said. On Wednesday, the smell of sewage was "quite pronounced up and down the block," he said.

"We've had sewer back up in our house at least four or five times, which is a health issue," Bill Ramsey of 122 W. Fifth St. said.

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