Businesses say there is something fishy in Squirrel Hill

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When it rains, it stinks.

About a dozen businesses in Squirrel Hill on a private sewer line are having problems with intermittent sewage backups in their basements.

"It probably has to do with the rain," said Guillermo Cole, spokesman for the Allegheny County Health Department, which received a report about the problem this week.

"The fact that the sewage is backing up suggests the line is partially clogged," he said.

Because the line is private and not maintained by the city, the businesses connected to it are responsible for repairs, he said.

Merchants likely will be receiving letters from the health department next week telling them that the lines need to be cleaned out, Mr. Cole said.

Dale McKenna, general manager at the Manor Theatre on Murray Avenue, said the theater and other nearby businesses have been experiencing problems for about two years.

"Usually whenever it rains, we'll be affected," he said Friday. "It's not usually too nasty."

Mr. McKenna said he has reported the problem to the building's landlord.

Mr. Cole said the health department received its first report about the backups this week.

He said there was a similar problem with the same private line 10 years ago. Back then, a couple of businesses subsequently decided to disconnect and tie into the city line, he said.

"We don't think there's any imminent health hazard," Mr. Cole said of the most recent problem.

"But it has to be addressed just as it had to be 10 years ago."

Patricia Sabatini: or 412-263-3066.

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