Press Release
Government agencies, public interest organizations, and elected officials join forces in project to keep nearly 1.7 million gallons of storm water out of sewers and streams
Schenley Park green projects could provide model to help region meet Federal Clean Water Act requirements

PITTSBURGH - August 21, 2014 – Representatives of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN), Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC), and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) today joined with U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle; Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin; and Pittsburgh City Council member Corey O’Connor to showcase two green rain water management projects in Schenley Park. Once finished, these green projects will keep nearly 1.7 million gallons of storm water and run-off annually from entering the sewer system and wetlands, Panther Hollow Lake, Four Mile Run below it, and ultimately the Monongahela River. The University of Pittsburgh will continue its monitoring of the project for the next two years, providing clear data to guide similar green developments across the region.

The projects’ design plan was developed by the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy with funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. With assistance from Rep. Doyle, funding to build the projects came from a grant to ALCOSAN from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with more direct funding from ALCOSAN, and local grants and in-kind services from Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, PWSA, and the City’s Department of Public Works. The Helen and James Huegel Fund and the Peaceable Kingdom Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation, Dominion Foundation, Ryan Memorial Foundation, and the Allegheny County Conservation District also contributed to this project.

“When the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy first began envisioning this project 10 years ago, it was much smaller in scope, impacting about 80 acres of park land. However, our experience with environmental restoration and the results of scientific research made it clear that we should consider the watershed as a whole. This is an important step toward the goal of restoring the Panther Hollow Watershed to viability and with it, a cherished landmark in Panther Hollow Lake,” said Parks Conservancy President and CEO Meg Cheever.

“This is a great example of how a partnership that brings together government, public interest groups, universities, and businesses can solve difficult local problems," Congressman Doyle observed. "We have a big job ahead of us to clean up and protect our rivers and streams, but this project shows how we can meet that challenge. I hope other municipalities will see this project as an example of an approach worth emulating and undertake similar initiatives to make our region a safer, healthier place to live.” 

“Restoring our streams, wetlands and Schenley Park’s historic Panther Hollow Lake through this important public-private partnership is our next step in using innovative green infrastructure to improve Pittsburgh’s landscape and environment,” said Kevin Acklin, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s Chief of Staff. “These projects will provide us with best practices for managing storm water runoff and watersheds in the city while creating a healthier ecological system for Pittsburgh’s communities.”


Since 2008, the region has been working under a consent decree with the U.S. EPA to reduce and eliminate sewage contamination from local rivers and streams. Often, this contamination occurs when storm water enters and overwhelms the system, resulting in spills into local waterways. All 83 communities within the regional service area are under EPA mandates to repair broken sewer lines, reduce storm water entering the system, reduce the frequency and amount of combined sewer overflows, and eliminate sanitary sewer overflows.


ALCOSAN is also under an EPA mandate to eliminate Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) and control the amount of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) being discharged into the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela rivers, and their tributary streams of Chartiers Creek, Saw Mill Run, and Turtle Creek. Capturing the storm water before it enters the system, as these projects do, protects all the waterways below.


“The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s watershed restoration plan is a great example of collaboration between the City and our partners, such as First Tee of Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council,” said Councilman Corey O’Connor, Chair of the City’s Parks and Urban Recreation Committee and member of the ALCOSAN board of directors. “Their involvement, along with participation from more than 100 workshop participants in the planning process, will prove to be a benefit to our neighborhoods.”

“We are grateful to Rep. Doyle for helping to get the original grant from EPA, which we used to help fund these two projects in Schenley Park, and another great green project in West View,” said ALCOSAN Board of Directors Chair John K. Weinstein, who also serves as treasurer of Allegheny County. “We continue to support similar private-public partnerships to help build sustainable green infrastructure across the region. Together, we can meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act to cut our pollution, protect public health and make the Pittsburgh region an even better place to live, work, and play. And thanks to the University of Pittsburgh, which is monitoring the project, we will make sure that public money is used in a way that benefits all our citizens.”


“PWSA is honored to be part of this partnership bringing green infrastructure to the City of Pittsburgh. Data collected from the Panther Hollow project will help shape the implementation of the PWSA/City of Pittsburgh Wet Weather Plan (WWP). The WWP will reduce combined sewage overflows, improving the water quality in our rivers, aquatic life, recreation and quality of life for the entire region,” said PWSA Interim Executive Director Jim Good.


Jeanne Clark
Public Information Officer


Melissa Rubin
Public Information Officer

City of Pittsburgh
Katie O’Malley
Asst. Communications Manager

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Scott Roller
Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications

Quick facts on Schenley Park Green Infrastructure Project in the Panther Hollow Watershed

The Projects

The projects in Schenley Park along Beacon and Bartlett Streets, and along Schenley Drive through the Bob O’Connor Golf Course, are designed to manage and minimize runoff by collecting and redistributing 1.7 million gallons of water naturally through a variety of green infrastructure design components. Schenley Park was selected because of its location at the top of the watershed, and its position as the starting point for water that makes its way to Panther Hollow Lake and beyond. Capturing rain water at the top of the watershed protects all streams and rivers below.
  • Project #1 - An infiltration trench (essentially two very large French drains) was installed along Beacon Street and Bartlett Street in Schenley Park to catch rain water, allowing an estimated 600,000 gallons of rain water to infiltrate into the ground. The water will be soaked up by a newly planted meadow featuring carefully selected shrubs and trees.

    Keeping in mind the input of park users, a trail that winds through the meadow as well as an open lawn space have been included in the design plan.
  • Project #2 - Sections of the course will have retentive grading or long bumps. These graded areas will slow water as it hits the bumps and will have a special soil mix that is estimated to capture another 1.12 million gallons of rain water a year, lessening runoff and erosion.

    The project is being developed with key dedicated partners as part of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s multi-phase master plan for Schenley Park. The project’s analysis, design, and construction plan was funded by a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
The Partners
  • Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
  • Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority
  • Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN)
  • City of Pittsburgh, Department of Public Works
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Pennsylvania Environmental Council
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • First Tee of Pittsburgh
Cost, funding and construction partners
  • Total Cost - $750,000
    • $412,500 From EPA grant to ALCOSAN
    • $157,500 ALCOSAN direct contribution
    • $60,000 PWSA direct contribution
    • $60,000 City of Pittsburgh in-kind
    • $60,000 Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy direct contribution and in-kind
  • Published
  • Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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