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ALCOSAN's Plan Addressing Sewage Overflow Submitted to Federal Government


As required by the federal government, the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) has submitted its plan addressing sewage overflows. ALCOSAN has also requested an extension to study the feasibility of adding green infrastructure improvements to the plan.

A 2008 consent decree required ALCOSAN to come up with a way to stop sewage overflows into waterways during wet weather. A draft Wet Weather Plan drew criticism because it didn’t include any so-called green options. Instead, it called for “grey” infrastructure improvements such as larger pipes and massive storage systems.

Based on public feedback, ALCOSAN said it will now study the potential for green infrastructure such as rain gardens, green roofs, and rain barrels. Among the factors to be considered are location, methods, cost, who would be responsible for installation and maintenance, and the ability to meet regulatory compliance.

The Wet Weather Plan submitted to regulatory bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, would cost about $2.8 billion. It would increase primary treatment capacity to 480 million gallons per day, and the secondary capacity to 295 million gallons per day.

The price tag has many concerned. When the plan was released over the summer, ALCOSAN officials said it would double or possibly triple customers’ rates. That does not meet the federal cost requirement. Supporter of adding green components to the plan say doing so could bring down the cost.

ALCOSAN has some 320,000 customers in 83 communities including the City of Pittsburgh, it treats an average of 200 million gallons of wastewater daily.

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