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Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Plans Improvements to Panther Hollow Watershed

Pittsburghers can remember boating, fishing and ice skating on Schenley Park’s Panther Hollow Lake in years gone by, but in recent years, storm water runoff has degraded water quality and filled the lake with silt. 

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has developed plans to restore the 384-acre watershed.  

Panther Hollow Lake sits almost at the bottom of the watershed, according to Philip Gruszka of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, so to dredge and make capital improvements to the lake without improving the watershed would not be sustainable.  

"This restoration of the lake doesn't really move forward effectively until we've stabilized the hillsides and the stream channels and the outfalls of pipes and the inlets within our streetscapes, whether they be clogged up with soda bottles or soils," he said.

The planned projects will infiltrate storm water throughout the watershed so there will no longer be a huge surge into the lake when it rains. Caution is needed when re-directing storm water, Gruszka said, because infiltrating water into a steep slope could cause a landslide.

When the time comes to improve the lake, the conservancy will study the sediments and dredge to achieve a healthy system with both shallow and deep areas, Gruszka said.

Gruszka said design and construction documents are ready, but additional funding is needed, and the conservancy will meet with the City of Pittsburgh next week to ascertain what personnel and in-kind services may be available.

Charlee Song has been covering news for 90.5 FM since 2000—an opportunity she considers a great privilege. She finds almost every assignment interesting and really enjoys working with both the veterans and interns at WESA.