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Courthouse pipes being inspected after ongoing issues with leaks

About 10 gallons of stormwater and sewage leaked into the basement of the county courthouse during last week’s storms despite repairs, officials recently said. The Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authority is expected to finish its inspection of those pipes today.

Plumbing Masters, of Williamsport, were hired to install a new valve for $11,500 on July 28 and 29 after a large amount of water leaked into the courthouse’s basement.

Though the flooding has been an issue for about 10 years, a faulty valve paired with severe rains caused flooding on several occasions this year — compared to previous years’ annual episodes.

The issue is believed to be caused by the city’s pipes carrying both sewage and stormwater, as well as the courthouse residing lower than other buildings and close to the main line. Pine and West Third streets are slated for maintenance work in a year or two, but no firm deadline has been relayed to the Lycoming County commissioners.

“As of right now, I have to say, no (the valve) did not hold. It seemed to hold some, but that’s really hard to tell,” said Ken George, county maintenance director. “It may have helped a lot. Or it may have not helped at all. There’s just no way of truly telling.”

The city has moved up inspection to try and understand the situation.

“We’re working diligently with the water authority at this point to see why it’s getting by, or how it’s getting by or if it’s even getting by it and maybe something else,” said George.

Part of the inspection is to determine if there are more than one lateral, or pipe going from the county building to the sewer line, said Eric Smithgall, engineering director with the authority.

“The (Lycoming County Courthouse) plans show one connection, however the discrepancy is that the plans show the connection in a completely different location from where it currently is,” Smithgall said. “So because of that we wanted to verify that the one connection, that was changed back when the courthouse was built, is the only connection.”

It’s the county’s job to know where its own laterals are, said Michael Miller, executive director of the authority.

“We’re trying to start upstream and eliminate the problems moving downstream. It’s a systematic approach to try to eliminate variables as to what caused the problem,” he said.

Considering the new valve didn’t solve the flooding issue, the city is now testing the courthouse’ system by putting dye into the toilets, drains and showers. From how the dye moves through the pipes, crews will determine if there is a single lateral or several.

“We want to make sure there’s not another lateral or another access where the storm water can come back,” Miller said. “We want to be a part of the solution, so we know the information going into it, if it comes to us.”

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