stormwater management

Green Boulevard Strategic Plan

A lot can change in five years.

In March of 2013, the city, working with private partners and the public, completed a $1.5 million, federally-funded plan to rejuvenate the neighborhoods along a 6-mile stretch of the Allegheny River, from Downtown through Highland Park.

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

The Hill District is now home to a green stormwater infrastructure project at the intersection of Centre and Herron avenues. The system will collect water runoff from the University of Pittsburgh athletic fields and surrounding hills that are elevated higher than the project.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Alcosan will dole out $9 million in grants to support 32 projects intended to keep storm water out of the stressed sanitation system.

The projects in 18 municipalities, including parts of Pittsburgh, are expected to prevent 70 million gallons of rainwater from entering the sewage system. That is less than 1 percent of the 9 billion gallons of water that overflows into the region’s rivers every year.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority proposed mixing green and gray infrastructure to reduce the amount of raw sewage flowing into the Ohio River. 

The draft “Green First Plan” calls for millions of dollars in water retention systems that are both above and below ground. The systems would range from cement cisterns that hold water during rainy days to be processed later, to green spaces that can absorb storm water runoff into the ground.  

City of Pittsburgh

Municipal officials hope to submit a final “green first” plan for dealing with the region’s stormwater management problem to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by the end of this year.

The plan relies heavily on green infrastructure, which involves planting trees and restoring the natural water cycle.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Two proposed trust funds would allow real estate developers to pay the city of Pittsburgh to build green spaces and stormwater management infrastructure if they’re not able to include those elements on the sites of new projects in Downtown or North Shore.

Pittsburgh City Council approved the creation of an Open Space Trust Fund and a Stormwater Management Trust Fund in two unanimous preliminary votes Wednesday.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

McCandless residents will be tasked Monday with deciding whether to level three large retail buildings at the far, northern end of McKnight Road to revert the 27-acre slab of asphalt and concrete back into a wetland preserve.

Flickr user Chesapeake Bay Program

‘Tis the season for landscaping, gardening and yard work, and the Allegheny County Conservation District is hoping homeowners will include storm water management in their plans for improving their outdoor spaces.

To make that task easier, the ACCD and a consortium of other organizations have put together the first ever Southwestern Pennsylvania Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater, available online and at conservation district offices.

midquel / Flickr

Many Pittsburgh homeowners have tried to sell their houses, only to find out that construction decisions made long before they ever even purchased those homes threw a wrench into the process.

Now, the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority wants to lend a helping hand to homeowners stymied by such problems.

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Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb said Wednesday that he didn’t find any evidence of nepotism at the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority in his latest performance audit, but the perception of such favoritism is hurting the organization.

“There’s this continuing perception that everything at ALCOSAN is pay-to-play, whether it’s contracting, personnel hiring, any of these issues,” Lamb said. “We wanted to get in and make sure these procedures are in place, because we know ALCOSAN is going to grow over the next 20 years.”

Local governments across Pennsylvania have some new options to address the widespread problem of storm water runoff. 

“It’s another tool,” said Jennifer Quinn of the environmental group PennFuture.   

She said SB 1255, signed by Gov. Corbett Thursday, builds upon Act 68 of last year that allows municipalities to establish storm water authorities to address the widespread problem of runoff. 

Under this new law, the storm water authorities can offer credits to homeowners and businesses to reduce their fees by implementing storm water management best practices.

Schenley Park is getting two water management systems for the Panther Hollow Watershed. With green infrastructure, the pilot projects aim to decrease runoff by either collecting or re-distributing rain water.

Erin Copeland, senior restoration ecologist with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, said the recent flooding did not trigger the projects’ initiation. She said it has been in the planning process since 2010.

City Council News With Noah

May 20, 2013
90.5 WESA / 90.5 WESA

Legislation to change the powers of the Citizen Police Review Board is up for a final vote on Thursday.  Currently, the CPRB reviews new police policies after they are implemented, but the new legislation would alter this system resulting in the board reviewing  policies before they take effect. Sponsoring Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess, who originally wanted to publish an abridged version of the police rule book until it was found to be against state law, says he's hoping to use the CPRB as the "eyes and ears" of the public regarding police policies.

DC Water

    

Washington DC and Pittsburgh have a common trait of being build right by the water, with low lying areas and old infrastructure. When it became necessary for DC to improve its water and sewage systems - like Pittsburgh - the nation’s capital opted for a focus on traditional "gray" options. Tunnels and pipes were the main solution for Washington's sewage and storm water problems.

But George Hawkins, General Manager of DC Water has worked to convince the district and the EPA to embrace green infrastructure ideas. By reopening the EPA consent decree, DC is on track to becoming a model of sustainable infrastructure.

A bill approved in the Pennsylvania Senate would allow local governments to enter into stormwater authorities.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Ted Erickson (R-PA-26), said municipal leaders are looking for tools to help them respond to the rising costs of stormwater management.

“After the last round of flooding we had about a year ago, it became evident that we needed to plan on a watershed basis, which means you have to cross municipal boundaries," Erickson said. "So if you had an authority that did that, it would be extremely helpful."