Plumbing problems at county building leads to discovery of unrelated sewer issue

·2 min read

Jul. 22—A problem with backed-up toilets at the Lackawanna County Government Center helped to reveal an unrelated issue under a street outside.

It all began last month when the county started recalling employees "full throttle" to the government center at 123 Wyoming Ave., the former Globe store,in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, county Chief of Staff Brian Jeffers said.

"For the first time in a long time, the bathrooms were being used on a regular basis, and we had some plumbing issues," he said.

In late June, county officials shut down the restrooms on the second through fifth floors of the six-story building while working with Pennsylvania American Water, which owns and operates the city's sewer system, to find a solution, he said.

Mark Dougher, the county director of maintenance, said it was determined the volume of the line leaving the government center and connecting to the sewer system on Center Street needed to be increased.

Crews replaced the existing pipe, which was four inches in diameter, with 25 feet of eight-inch pipe at a cost of about $7,000, he said.

That took care of the county's problem and, after just over a week, the closed restrooms reopened, Jeffers said.

However, as part of its work with the county, Pennsylvania American Water ran a camera through the sewer line on Center Street and then north on Penn Avenue behind the government center, Dougher said.

That's when the utility discovered a collapsed sewer pipe in the 100 block of Penn that "had nothing to do with us," he said.

A contractor started work last week to replace about 80 feet of 12-inch sewer pipe on Penn, along with a collapsed manhole, utility spokeswoman Susan Turcmanovich said in an email. The project is expected to wrap up today.

Contact the writer:, 570-348-9132

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