Pittsburgh, PA - The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is taking steps to improve water quality in Saw Mill Run. With the completion of the Saw Mill Run Stream Restoration project in the Overbrook neighborhood, engineered and natural solutions were used to reduce the amount of pollution and debris entering the stream, protect against future erosion, and slow down the speed that water travels during intense storms.
This project restored two sections of the streambank. At the first location near Ansonia Place, we restored 180 feet of heavily eroded streambank and stabilized two storm sewer outfalls. At the second location behind the City of Pittsburgh’s Accamando Center, 130 feet of heavily eroded streambank was restored and three storm sewer outfalls were stabilized.
This portion of the Saw Mill Run Watershed is located in a separate storm sewer system area – meaning that when it rains, stormwater is routed into storm drains and pipes that discharge directly into our streams and rivers. Over time, the power of that fast-moving stormwater can erode streambanks and pollute our waterways. Soil, debris, and other pollution lowers water quality, harms fish and wildlife habitat, and limits water recreation.
The City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority are required by state and federal law to help protect and restore rivers and streams by managing pollution caused by stormwater. As part of our joint Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit with the City of Pittsburgh, we are required by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to implement practices to reduce the amount of pollutants that enter our streams and rivers from our separate storm sewer system.
“By protecting these severely eroded streambanks, we are maximizing our investment in cleaner water and stronger infrastructure for Saw Mill Run,” stated Will Pickering, Executive Director of PWSA. “Using an innovative combination of engineered and natural solutions to stabilize the streambank and reduce erosion will provide lasting benefits for stream health, wildlife habitat, and our community.”
To celebrate the completion of this stream restoration project, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has created a virtual ribbon cutting video. In the video, Ana Flores, Project Manager explains the details of the project while guiding viewers around the two sites.
Explore the details of the stream restoration
The video describes many of the technical solutions that were used throughout the project. Various techniques such as installing soil anchors and placing boulders along the bed of the stream were used to stabilize the streambank. Reshaping the streambank to slope further back provides more space for rising waters to flow, and geomesh fabric holds the soil and vegetation in place to provide further stabilization and environmental benefits.
Storm sewer outfalls were reconstructed to better control stormwater flow and rocks were placed below the outfalls to protect the streambed and reduce the energy of flowing stormwater when it enters the stream.
Together, these improvements will help to improve water quality in Saw Mill Run. They will result in less pollution and will help manage the speed of water during intense storms. The public can view the stream restoration project from the Accamando Center’s parking lot or from the pedestrian bridge behind the Accamando Center.
Construction began in December of 2019 and was completed in July of 2020 after a two-month halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. The total cost of the project was $1.22 million. For more information about this project, please visit www.pgh2o.com/sawmillrun.