DALLAS TWP. — Imagine coming home from work to find several inches of mud has washed into your basement and patio, and poured into an inground pool.
The mucky mess is a regular occurrence for Dallas Township resident Bob Considine, despite his best efforts to redirect the volume of water that rushes down a hill, over a stone wall, across Oak Leaf Lane and into his property and home.
“He has a serious problem,” said Josh Longmore, manager of the Luzerne Conservation District.
Stormwater first flowed into Considine’s home after a heavy rainfall in 2005. He had returned from a business trip and found nearly three inches of mud in his finished basement, patio and his pool was brown with dirt.
He lived in the one-story home off the privately-owned road since 1997 and never before had problems with stormwater flooding his home.
Every year after 2005, the flooding became more frequent, he said.
Considine took preventive steps to protect his home from the rush of water. He installed a trench drainage system in front of his garage and a stormwater basin at the back corner of his home.
His efforts mildly helped.
Considine decided to find out why, after nearly 18 years in his home, he is now having stormwater problems.
He followed the water’s washout up a grassy hill, through a small wooded lot and up to an 18-inch stormwater discharge pipe off township-owned Hamilton Road in Haddonfield Hills, an older housing development in Dallas Township.
The pipe pointed in the direction of his home below.
Considine said the pipe was six inches in diameter and Dallas Township road crews replaced the small pipe with an 18-inch pipe.
Armed with photos of stormwater flowing down the hill and over the stone wall, Considine approached township officials and requested they reduce the size of the pipe or redirect the water to the opposite side of Hamilton Road where existing culverts lead to stormwater basins.
Township engineer Thomas J. Doughton, of Douglas F. Trumbower and Associates Architects & Engineers in Wilkes-Barre, said the flow of water could not be interrupted, Considine said.
“They already changed the flow of water,” Considine said.
A letter from Doughton to the township supervisors, dated Feb. 25, 2016, stated he reviewed the problem by contacting the last four Dallas Township roadmasters, who reported the discharge from the stormwater drainage pipe “has never been a point of compliance with any of the downgradient properties.”
The letter included Doughton’s evaluation of the water issue: “The stormwater discharge generated from the inlet located across from 15 Hamilton Road contributes a very small amount of discharge during a 50-plus year storm event, and it is not the source of water overflow conditions along Oak Leaf Lane. The entire hillside between Oak Leaf Lane and Hamilton Road is a steep, partially wooded and open meadow area. This area is totally uncontrolled and has a very fast runoff coefficient. This entire area drains down to the north berm of Oak Leaf Lane. Oak Leaf Lane has no defined stormwater ditches along its northern side, and we found only one cross drain along the road. The lack of any stormwater conveyance ditches or swales along Oak Leaf Lane caused water to overflow the road and impact private property during a significant rain event. The lack of maintenance along Oak Leaf Lane is very evident, and this is what is causing the impact to residential dwellings.”
Considine continued to seek a resolution to his problem and reached out to state Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Luzerne Conservation District for help.
The Luzerne Conservation District offered a line of hope to Considine.
Longmore, the district manager, offered Doughton the possibility of acquiring a grant for up to $80,000 through the Dirt, Gravel Low Volume Road Program.
Doughton studied stormwater drainage on Hamilton Road to determine if the system had a malfunction as part of the grant’s requirements.
He found no defect, Longmore said.
“I know this hasn’t satisfied Considine,” Longmore said. “The most cost-effective solution is to establish a (drainage) ditch along his road (Oak Leaf Lane). It would cost the residents (on Oak Leaf Lane) a few thousand dollars.”
Longmore said there could have been a ditch along the side of Oak Leaf Lane years ago which would have prevented stormwater issues in the past. But erosion and sediment filled it in and grass grew in that area.
“He is not alone,” Longmore said of Considine. “We have had significant rain storms in recent years. There is nothing more the district can do.”
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.