West Pittston Considers Inflatable Levee

WEST PITTSTON, Pa. -- An idea was proposed to a packed borough council meeting in West Pittston Tuesday involving a new levee system after the borough has experienced several floods over the years.

The West Pittston borough manager tells Newswatch 16 that the borough has started a feasibility study to look into this new inflatable levee system as well as other measures to help limit flood damage in the future.

During a borough council meeting Tuesday night, Flood Control Barriers LLC presented an idea that could help limit future flood damage in West Pittston. It would involve an inflatable levee system that would inflate to eight and a half feet.

The project would stretch more than a mile along Susquehanna Avenue on land along the banks of the Susquehanna River.

A permanent levee system is estimated to cost more than $50 million. The inflatable levee would likely cost just over $1 million. It's a proposal the borough will look into.

"The borough was successful in securing grant funding from the Luzerne County Office of Community Development, an award amount of $200,000 to perform a feasibility study," said borough manager Sevino Bonita. "We have no flood protection now, so anything we have will be an enhancement to us."

If West Pittston decides to buy an inflatable levee system, the borough would be on the hook for the costs. It would also need a permit from the state's Department of Environmental Protection.

"Because this is not a permanent levee, it involves human intervention. It's not going to reduce flood rates, flood insurance rates."

The most recent flooding in West Pittston took place in January. Months later, massive ice chunks and tree branches remain. Still, those who live in the area are still skeptical about the latest proposed levee system.

"It's only a temporary thing. Eight and a half feet doesn't buy you a lot with this river. It doesn't sound like it's a good thing to go with," said Exeter resident Dave Knitowski.

"Is it going to cause problems for people on the southern part of south Pittston and then, of course, Exeter and Wyoming? We have to look at all aspects of this (so) you can make a true decision," said West Pittston resident Mary Curley.

Flood Control Barriers LLC say it has installed levees in Minnesota, Florida, New York, and Massachusetts.

There's no word on how long the feasibility study is expected to take.

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