Dredging underway to help control Bridgeville flooding

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Bridgeville residents who live along McLaughlin Run are getting relief from the threat of flash floods in the Chartiers Creek basin.

Dredging is underway to remove sediment from the mouth of McLaughlin Run where it flows into Chartiers Creek.

Fred Bigham, chairman of the Chartiers Valley District Flood Control Authority, made the announcement last month during a meeting of Bridgeville Council.

"The Chartiers Valley District Flood Control Authority is going to remove the sediment," Mr. Bigham said, explaining that the sediment buildup was a factor in causing the flash flood July 10 that hit McLaughlin Run residents and businesses after a severe thunderstorm pounded Bridgeville.

The dredging will be done by the end of this month, he noted.

"It doesn't solve the long-term problem, but it will help," he said.

Council has been at work on a long-term solution to flooding. Earlier it unanimously passed a resolution authorizing borough manager Lori Collins to send a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saying that Bridgeville is joining other municipalities in requesting that a flood reduction study be made of the Chartiers Creek watershed. The watershed encompasses Robinson Run, McLaughlin Run, Millers Run, Painters Run and Campbells Run -- all tributaries of the creek.

"The corps requires a study first. They are the entity to do a multi-million dollar project that covers multiple municipalities," Ms. Collins said last month.

Flooding is an issue that crosses municipal borders. Stormwater runoff from upstream communities can contribute to flooding in downstream communities.

"This is the first time all of [the municipalities] have gotten together," Ms. Collins added.

"You are on the right track. This is how it all starts," Mr. Bigham said.

The James G. Fulton Control Project started with a letter, he said.

James Fulton, who was a U.S. congressman from Dormont, brought together all the business owners in the valley to support efforts to control chronic flooding along Chartiers Creek.

The Army Corps of Engineers then instituted a flood control program for the creek that was completed in 1981 and involved widening, deepening and realigning 11 miles of the creek through Bridgeville, Thornburg and the West End neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Bigham's flood control authority maintains the project by dredging sediment from the creek and removing debris that piles up against bridge piers, which can impede the flow of water in the creek.

The flood control authority and the Army Corps, however, do not have jurisdiction over the tributaries, he said.

"To expand the flood control project, a study is needed," he said.

Mr. Bigham said the authority was able to undertake a successful effort, completed last year, to control flooding in Campbells Run in Carnegie but was still limited in how far it could dredge and widen the tributary because of the jurisdiction issue.

"We haven't been asleep," Bridgeville council President Nino Petrocelli Sr. said.

Bob Podurgiel, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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