West Pittston Council hears proposal on $800K inflatable dam

By Jimmy Fisher - jfisher@timesleader.com
This is what an inflatable dam — such as the one being proposed in West Pittston — looks like. A feasibility study will be done by an engineering firm before the borough possibly moves forward with the idea. - File photo

WEST PITTSTON — Residents were presented a possible solution to the borough’s flooding problems at Tuesday’s council meeting, though some wondered if a proposed $800,000 inflatable dam would be enough to hold back high water.

Adam Wagner, CEO of Floodblock — a division of Flood Control Barriers LLC, of New York — gave a brief presentation about an inflatable dam that could help reduce, or even entirely eliminate, potential flooding.

The borough was hit with notable floods during the 2011 Lee storm and more recently with the ice jam this past January.

Wagner said the inflatable dam is used all over the world with good results. He said the one that would be sold to the borough can go as high as eight feet.

The dam’s tubes sit in storage until needed. In preparation for high water, they can be rolled out and inflated using air and water from the flooding river. Once the water recedes, the floodwater is drained and the air is let out. The tubes are then rolled back up and stored for later usage.

One resident noted that eight feet would not be high enough, as the ice jam caused floodwaters up to 12 feet.

“We need 12 feet,” he said. “If it breaches one spot, it breaches the entire town. I would think before anybody here considers this expense, we would have to be assured that the height and diameter of the tubes would provide protection for the lowest part of West Pittston.”

Wagner noted that sandbags can be put on top or underneath the tubes to provide more height if needed.

The council received a $200,000 Community Development Block Grant to be used for a flood study. The work will go to an engineering firm that submits the lowest bid, and Floodblock will part of the study.

“They’re going to study different ways to protect the town,” said council president Ellen Quinn. “Once we get a plan and, if they think something can be done, then we have to go on and look for funding.”

Wagner said it would cost the borough $800,000 for the dam’s tubes, pumps and other related equipment.

The idea for Floodblock came from borough resident and flood victim Bob Trusavage, who lives on Susquehanna Avenue and has elevated his home to 12.5 feet.

He said he began doing research on Floodblock in 1996.

“That’s how long I’ve been coming here fighting for this,” he said. “We’ve been flooded three times and evacuated our house five times during these floods.”

After the meeting, residents approached Trusavage and thanking him for bringing Floodblock staff to the borough to offer a potential solution.

“We’re dying for it,” he said. “All of us.”

This is what an inflatable dam — such as the one being proposed in West Pittston — looks like. A feasibility study will be done by an engineering firm before the borough possibly moves forward with the idea.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_RGB_InflatableDam.cropped.cmyk_.jpgThis is what an inflatable dam — such as the one being proposed in West Pittston — looks like. A feasibility study will be done by an engineering firm before the borough possibly moves forward with the idea. File photo
Tubes, pumps, equipment would cost $800K

By Jimmy Fisher

jfisher@timesleader.com

Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher

Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher