Summers in Pittsburgh are notorious for frequent and severe storms that overwhelm our sewer system. When it rains, hard as it often does, all the excess water backs up into homes, floods our streets, and overflows into our rivers and streams.
To address the impacts of too much rain and continue to improve stormwater management in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is stepping up to create a Stormwater Strategic Plan that will help to reduce flooding, plan for the impacts of climate change, and improve the quality of life for Pittsburgh residents.
Building Stormwater Solutions Together
The strategic planning process, currently underway, builds off past planning efforts, such as the Citywide Green First Plan, and uses climate change data, community input, and prioritizes public health and wellness to provide a cost-effective, inclusive, and sustainable way to address one of our region’s most challenging problems.
Since introducing the Green First Plan in 2016, PWSA has constructed several innovative stormwater projects throughout Pittsburgh that use a combination of green solutions and underground storage to help capture stormwater where it falls and slow its flow into the combined sewer system.
In 2019, ALCOSAN received approval of their Clean Water Plan, a regulatory document defining strategies to reduce combined sewer overflows into our rivers by 2036. With the adoption of this plan, PWSA needed to adapt its approach to avoid duplicating efforts while continuing to identify solutions that would address many other wet weather challenges in Pittsburgh.
The Strategic Plan will expand our efforts to manage stormwater and develop the framework and guidelines to establish an acceptable level of stormwater protection to provide across Pittsburgh. This is one of the most important conversations for Pittsburgh to have as a community. By developing a collective answer to this question, we can assure that residents and businesses participating in the process understand the benefits and limitations of the level of service, and realize the cost associated with its implementation.
The Strategic Planning process is led by a visionary project team from PennPraxis and the Water Center at Penn who are joined by others representing both national expertise as well as deep knowledge of local water issues. Recognizing the importance of public engagement, they will guide the Pittsburgh community through a robust public process to learn about the most critical challenges and barriers facing our city. Special attention will be paid to engaging stakeholders and communities not typically at the table for stormwater conversations and are most impacted by stormwater issues such as flooding and basement backups.
The Stormwater Strategic Plan will serve as Pittsburgh’s blueprint to address local stormwater challenges. It will seek to address the specific goals of improving water quality, reducing street flooding and basement backups, and beautifying neighborhoods in an affordable manner. All of which will create a community that is healthier, safer, and more resilient to the impacts of stormwater.
For more information about the Stormwater Strategic Plan and other stormwater planning efforts, please visit Pgh2o.com/stormwater-plans.