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Flooding solutions being sought in St. Clairsville

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK St. Clairsville council members Terra Butler and Perry Basile at a prior council meeting. Recently Butler gave an update via teleconference about basement flooding concerns.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Options to address basement flooding Bellview Street and Overbaugh Avenue were among the topics up for discussion last week.

Flooding has been a long-time issue and Councilwoman Terra Butler, who represents the Fourth Ward where these streets are located, spoke about short term and long term solutions.

“My residents are constantly in contact, especially during the heavy rains, asking for solutions, asking for help,” she said. “These people need something in-between that time.”

She thanked Martins Ferry Water Superintendent Bill Suto and workers in the water department for providing advice about the city’s options and what could be done to provide some immediate relief to residents experiencing flooding.

“I know we’ve talked about check valves as solutions, but with those come also potential problems,” Butler said, adding most of the residents’ downspouts go straight into the ground, and direct the storm water from the roofs. “All of the rainwater that collects on that goes straight down that downspout and straight into our main, which is an awful lot of water. Turning downspouts out into their yards, out of the main, would potentially alleviate a significant amount of water going into our sewer system. That first and foremost was (Suto’s) suggestion.”

Butler referred to line analysis by underground camera in 2018. In the long-term, a project would be needed to separate sewer and storm water lines as the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requires.

“What we could do to alleviate in the meantime, to take some of that water out of our main, would be a tremendous help,” she said.

Currently, the city is sending letters to the residents of those streets, asking for the histories of the individual homes’ issues.

“EPA wants that information,” she said. “There aren’t a whole lot of people, but the ones who do have the issues, it’s very bad.”

Councilman Perry Basile, who has been assisting in the information-gathering process, said homes that experience flooding are situated over the sewer lines.

“There’s no give and there’s no pressure flexibility to where that water won’t back up into their home,” Basile said. “We’ve had such an overwhelming couple seasons of heavy rainwater that the way that things are set up with our downspouts in the sewers…it’s not feasible anymore.”

“Each individual home down there has its own specific set of problems,” Butler said.

She said check valves might alleviate problems at individual houses, but not the street, and may push off the problem onto their neighbors.

“Even if you line the whole street with check valves, even if you did every house down there, that water pressure has to go somewhere, and then we’re risking blowing our main line,” she said. “Cleaning the main and turning the downspouts out would be our first priority.”

Thalman also reported continued talks with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency about any grants or low-interest loans available for long-term repairs. She said the city would also begin to keep written records of the flooding, as required by the EPA.

“Letters went to all residents to ask them to keep track of that information,” Thalman said. “I’ll be speaking to some of the residents and making appointments with them … to get clarification on exactly what is and where it’s coming from on their houses.”

Thalman also commended Butler and Basile for their hands-on effort in assisting residents of the district during floods.

“You two are truly an asset to the city,” Thalman said.

Council President Jim Velas said the issue of downspouts may be covered in the city ordinances.

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