RR Park – remediation, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Dystopos’ photostream

90% of our drinking water comes from our rivers, yet almost every time it rains in Allegheny County, our sewer system is overwhelmed–overflowing sewage into our rivers, our streams, and often into our basements. In 2008, a federal consent decree by the Environmental Protection Agency required the prevention of almost all sewer overflows and long-term wet weather control planning. The question was whether “green” solutions–like rain gardens, porous pavement, rain barrels, green roofs, and more trees–would be used or would billions be spent on “gray” solutions.

This morning, there was a press conference attended by Councilman Bill Peduto, PWSA, and regional leaders to announce the submission of the PWSA feasibility study to meet this federal consent decree on stormwater management. Thankfully, PWSA has chosen a green route. Here’s Councilman Peduto’s official statement today on the plan:

“I am pleased to see PWSA’s leadership on finding a green solution to the stormwater management challenges that face this entire region,” said Councilman Peduto. “With the leadership of PWSA, and through partnerships with ALCOSAN and surrounding municipalities, we can create a solution that becomes a 21set century model for green infrastructure.”

You can see PWSA’s presentation to City Council on their feasibility study here.

And, here are some key points from Peduto’s remarks this morning:

Thanks to the EECO Center for hosting this Press Conference in their lovely rain garden. It’s an excellent forum to showcase how local non-profit and government organizations partner to create a Greener and Cleaner Pittsburgh for ourselves and for the ever-expanding community we continue to foster in our great city. Pittsburghers have always been known and admired for their cooperative and friendly nature and now we have a chance to show everyone how effective that bond can be.

I am an outspoken advocate of Pittsburgh’s ability to become a leader of green initiatives and infrastructure in dealing with our stormwater overflow. We need to get this right because what we decide today will shape our future for the next 100 years.

The vision I have to implement these changes includes creating park systems that can store our water so that we will be able to improve their neighborhoods, while at the same time addressing our problem of stormwater overflows. Neighborhoods in flat areas like Larimer, Homewood, Lawrenceville, Manchester, and Hazelwood may be ideal locations to create green areas where the water is held. From there, we can start to develop around parks in communities that have never seen them. We can develop housing around these parks because housing is worth more when it’s around something that’s green. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create canals and waterways to help spur redevelopment in old industrial areas. There are three benefits to this: number one, is the green solution which then enables future development to occur in these areas, number two, it will improve the triple bottom line: financial, environmental and social, and number three, it simply costs less to daylight storm runoff than to build expensive pipes to bury it underground.

PWSA has stepped up to the plate to serve as a true leader in green solutions to the complex problems that we face. They have shown us the way by hosting 3 Green Charrettes that brought together experts in all fields and regions; locally, national and even internationally, to brainstorm about all the opportunities available to us.

PWSA’s Wet Weather Feasibility Study incorporates an inspiring vision of what is possible when you effectively utilize Green and Grey Infrastructure to manage stormwater and protect Pittsburgh’s water and with it, our ever improving quality of life. I’m proud that this is the plan they will be submitting today to the Department of Environmental Protection. Other cities like Cleveland and Philadelphia may have started the path to a green future in their communities but Pittsburgh will build the highway, a Greener and Cleaner highway. I look forward to taking this journey with all of you as we lead this City of Champions back to the top in every way.



RR Park – curving brook at sunset, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Dystopos’ photostream