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Clogged Storm Catch Basins Becoming Big Problem In City

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A storm basin is supposed to have a little bit of debris, but plenty of room for an inundation when the skies open. But some in the City of Pittsburgh are nowhere close.

Pittsburgh Operations Director Guy Costa has seen a lot of storm drains in his public life, and KDKA's John Shumway took him on a walk around Gateway Center. Costa didn't like what he was seeing.

"This is totally unacceptable. We need to get someone here to clean this out, that is packed," said Costa. "That's uncalled for, that's all debris. Whoever was on contract to sweep probably just swept it all down there."

Costa says the problem is not just in Gateway Center.

"All over the city," said Costa. "We met with PWSA; they're putting a plan of action together to make improvements."

Tom Leech is PWSA's superintendent of sewer operations.

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has 30,000 catch basins.

"We have a contractor on call that handles all the complaints," said PWSA spokeperson Melissa Rubin. "They have several crews working five days a week."

But with that many catch basins, Rubin says, "We really don't know if they need cleaned unless we get a complaint. We depend on residents to call, so please call our dispatch."

KDKA's John Shumway is told the combination of the clogged basins in Gateway Center causes ponding problems in a hard storm and ice issues in the winter.

On our brief tour, Costa saw enough.

"I'll have someone out here by Friday," he said.

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