Elkland’s public work’s supervisor Dan Clark, said the streams and creeks around Elkland are full of gravel and local crews must wait for a state permit to remove any of it.
“Every time we get a storm, the streams fill up with gravel and it gets deeper,” Clark said.
The Department of Environmental Protection permits take a long time to receive, he added.
“We are working on permits to get in to the creeks and do some restoration after we were denied the first time we applied,” he said.
That was due to some ”issues” the borough had with its first engineer, Clark added.
“We went through the process and got denied. so so switched engineers and we are further in the process now with Larsen Design, who we hired earlier this year,” he said.
The permit is considered a “general permit,” that will allow us to do approximately 1,500 feet of the creek to take out flood trash, silt and loam, and do some stabilization and stream restoration,” he added.
The holdup on doing the work is caused by state regulations, he said.
“They won’t let you just do it anymore. You’ve got to put stuff back in the creek. and we can only do one of them at a time. You can’t stack permits on top of each other,” Clark said.
After the flooding last fall, the ground water around Elkland was pushed under the ground and into the borough, Clark explained.
“The creeks are built up so high it is pushing the ground water under ground, and it infiltrates the sewage system,” he said.
The old terra cotta pipes that carry the sewage to the treatment plant are cracked, which forces the infiltration of storm water.
“It is creating hundreds of thousands of gallons of ground water that has to be treated and discharged back to the river, but it has to go through that whole process to be clean water when it comes out,” Clark said.
The flooding didn’t just start last fall, Clark said.
“This has been ongoing for six years,” he said.
When it flooded in the fall, a lot of water came from a drainage ditch that drains fields around the borough, and it comes around the dike and floods into town.
“We had water up to the doors of my barn, in spots there was three to four feet of water,” he said.
Two homes were lost completely, in all affecting 40-50 homes, he added.
“This is all because the creeks are so full,” Clark said.
In November of last year, an attempt was made by DEP, along with Shell Appalachia and Waste Management to clean the section of the creek where it comes around the dike, about 900 feet.
“They did $200,000 worth of work and six days later it was right back where it was because of ongoing rain,” he said.
“We have taken steps to try to prevent it, but it is a bigger scope of work than just taking little steps,” he said, adding that grant funding is needed.
“The budget here just doesn’t have the funds to do it,” he added.
There are two culverts in the industrial park, that used to be Metamora, and every time it rains, something blocks those culverts. so we are working with Larsen and Rep. Clint Owlett to help us find some funding to get a box culvert in instead of pipes,” he added.
According to Clark, the plant there, now Boral Industries, has had to be evacuated every time the water comes down and into the parking area. In September it went into the plant,” he added.
Borough residents also had property destroyed by the flooding, which had to be disposed of.
“During the flooding, the borough paid for dumpsters, and we went through fifteen 30-yard dumpsters,” Clark said.
That money, about $15,000, wasn’t in the budget, he added
“We are still working on flood trash removal. We just had piles and piles of it,” Clark said.
Owlett, said he met with borough officials a couple months ago, to look at the culverts by Boral Industries, a shutter factory that employs about 250 people that runs 24/7.
“We will have to take one project at a time, but they have had to shut that factory down twice now,” Owlett said.
“It is a mess up there, every time it rains,” he added.
But, once a project is in place, “we can start looking for funds much more aggressively,” Owlett said.