Pittsburgh, PA - On Monday, September 16, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s construction crews will start construction to restore the parapet wall around the Highland I Reservoir. To complete the project as quickly as possible and to maintain public safety, the walkway will be closed during construction and will reopen next spring. The installation of the fencing will begin on Tuesday, September 17.
“We realize that many are disappointed by its closure and we apologize for the inconvenience,” stated Robert Weimar Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. “We considered several options to complete the project and concluded that the full closure of the walkway is the most efficient way to expedite the work, manage costs, and ensure the safety of the public.”
The full closure of the walkway is also supported by the City’s Department of Public Works. This approach gives the contractor the ability to stage the site, mobilize construction, and complete the work as quickly as possible. Partial closure or doing the project in phases will add more time and expense to the construction. Ensuring the safety of the public during any construction project is of the utmost importance. To prevent the risk of unforeseen accidents, it is in everyone’s best interest to close the walkway during this time.
Although the walkway around the reservoir will be closed, park users will still have full use of the pedestrian lane along Reservoir Drive.
Why is the restoration necessary?
The parapet wall is the low protective barrier around the perimeter of the uncovered reservoir. Over time, due to the age and deterioration of the concrete, holes have formed in the wall. Ducks and other wildlife burrow into it and wade into the reservoir. Once inside, they cannot get out. This is not safe for local wildlife and it presents several concerns about the quality and safety of our drinking water. The improvements to the wall will secure its perimeter, prevent most wildlife from wading into this source of drinking water, and will enhance its overall appearance.
Securing the Highland I Reservoir
The restoration of the parapet wall is part of a series of projects to secure the reservoir, improve water quality, and to maintain it as a public amenity. In addition to the parapet wall restoration, the Highland I Reservoir security improvements include the addition of ultraviolet (UV) disinfection at the Membrane Filtration Plant (MFP), security cameras to provide a 360-degree view of the reservoir, bollards to restrict private vehicular access, and renovation of the former chlorination building into a new security monitoring facility.
The security improvements to the Highland I Reservoir are required by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to meet stricter state water quality standards and will provide the security that is needed to maintain the open reservoir. The UV disinfection and installation of the bollards and security cameras were completed in August. We are now working with the DEP to We are currently working with the DEP to inspect these projects before placing the Highland I Reservoir back into service. The reservoir was taken out of service in 2017 due to state required changes to our operating permit.
The security improvements are part of our Capital Improvement Program and cost nearly $7 million. The restoration of the parapet wall is approximately $2.1 million. These projects were approved by the Art Commission of Pittsburgh and took place in coordination with Councilmember Deborah Gross, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the Highland Park Community Council, and the Highland Park Community Development Corporation.
The Highland I Reservoir is a popular destination for Pittsburgh residents and those visiting the park. We will do our best to complete the project as quickly as possible and appreciate your patience during construction. For more information, please visit our Highland I Reservoir Security Improvements page.