Council's Green Plans To Address Sewage Overflows In Area Rivers

May 15, 2015

In anticipation of a wet weather plan from ALCOSAN, Pittsburgh City Council members Corey O’Connor and Deb Gross have introduced legislation aimed at helping some of the city’s most vulnerable areas develop green infrastructure.

Under a consent decree, the city, Allegheny County and the federal Environmental Protection Agency must develop a plan to keep raw sewage from overflowing and spilling into area rivers during wet weather. Some areas are harder hit than others, including part of Gross’s district.

“There are over 30 of these overflow outlets, and when we have even a quarter inch of rain, sewage is flowing out of 30 different sites along the Allegheny riverfront," Gross said. "We are newly revitalizing (it) and trying to build a riverfront trail.”

The legislation would identify “environmental overlap zones” or areas that experience more flooding and water runoff. It would call on the zoning and development review division of the Department of City Planning to offer incentives for green development, which can include faster permits or tax breaks.

“Let’s say you have four or five key neighborhoods that don’t have any incentives but they fall under this green plan," O'Connor said. "The cost is a little bit higher, but if we incentivize it, now we’re giving you a reason to do it.”  

Ideally, green infrastructure will keep storm water on-site where it falls, he said, preventing runoff from flowing into the shared sewer system and reducing overflows.

The wet weather plan is expected to be completed in the next few months. City Council will consider legislation on Wednesday.