Basement flooding has been a problem in several areas of Johnstown after heavy rains.

Basement flooding has been a problem in several areas of Johnstown after heavy rains.

Village service director Jack Liggett began a project July 4, seeking answers that eventually should provide relief.

He told Johnstown Village Council on July 5 that extraordinary events called 50-year rains are occurring two or three times a year.

"Our storm sewer isn't designed to handle it all at once," he said. "Flash floods are becoming more and more frequent. It's a lot to handle with storm sewers."

Liggett said Johnstown residents are getting flooded basements tied into the sanitary sewer.

"We have an inflow problem with sanitary sewers in the older sections of towns," he said. "We have a widespread situation."

He said he looked at which areas of the village are submitting the most complaints.

"They're dotted all over the map," he said. "We're going to get numbers -- get rainwater out of the sanitary and into storm water as it should to relieve backup in home basements. I've experienced it myself. I know how trying it can be."

Liggett said he is trying to define where the village's problems were during the past two floods, including the June 23 rain event.

"We will do smoke testing," he said.

Smoke testing is the process of injecting artificially produced smoke into a pipeline segment to see where smoke emerges. If a sewer is in good condition, the forced smoke will emerge from manhole lids along the line. If the line is defective, the smoke will escape through the cracks.

If sanitary sewers are severely cracked, Liggett said, they could be lined or replaced.

"If there's inflow from storm water, we have to force that water to go someplace else," he said. "We will handle this one step at a time. We will put together a plan for smoke testing and see where problems are at."

Storm sewers were repaired on Williams Street and in the Leafy Dell subdivision after the June 23 rain, Liggett said.

Village Manager/Planner Jim Lenner said every time it rains, the village's system is degraded.

"First we'll set up a plan to see where inflow and infiltration is coming from," Liggett said. "We've got to start (using) camera(s) and smoking to see where it's coming from. It's creating problems for residents. Our goal is to alleviate those problems."

In other discussion, council member Sharon Hendren said she has talked to more people about shops displaying items on sidewalks on Main Street.

"They love to see things sitting out," she said.

Zoning inspector Jim Blair said cafe seating would be discussed during the zoning commission's meeting.

Lenner said he's concerned that if someone files an ADA complaint, it would be against the village.

"We'll be looking at patio seating and stuff (displayed on sidewalks)," he said.