Pittsburgh, PA — The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority announces its contract with the Water Center at Penn and PennPraxis to develop a comprehensive stormwater master plan for Pittsburgh. Both firms, co-leading the development of the master plan, bring a visionary project team to develop a global model using the p4 framework of People, Planet, Place, and Performance to provide an innovative, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable blueprint to address one of our region’s most challenging problems.
The dynamic project team brings extensive knowledge of the challenges and opportunities surrounding stormwater, climate change, and its impacts on communities. The team includes Grounded Strategies, Moonshot Missions, Andropogon Associates, AKRF, Inc., Susan Rademacher and Heather Sage, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Engineering and Resilience for Climate Change.
“The Water Center and PennPraxis team are uniquely positioned to assist PWSA and the people of Pittsburgh in creating an inclusionary vision for stormwater management and the practical guidance to put it into practice,” stated Will Pickering, PWSA’s Chief Executive Officer. “Their focus on community engagement and policies that address local land use and equity issues will lead to a plan that reflects the challenges experienced in Pittsburgh.”
For too long, aging infrastructure and the impacts of climate change have created challenges for stormwater management. The increasingly frequent and intense rain causes the combined sewer system to overflow into rivers and streams, flood streets, and cause property damage and health concerns when basements back up with raw sewage.
By creating a new comprehensive stormwater management strategy that meets the current circumstances and needs of Pittsburgh, the Water Center/ PennPraxis team will work collaboratively with PWSA, the City of Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh residents to improve water quality, alleviate flooding, reduce basement backups, create jobs, and beautify neighborhoods for safer and more resilient communities.
The creation of the stormwater master plan will bring together past planning efforts and build on the triple bottom line benefits established in the 2016 Citywide Green First Plan. Looking closely at the environmental, community, and economic benefits through the lens of the P4 Framework will establish a holistic plan that considers how improved stormwater management can shape the economic and community development of Pittsburgh leading to greater inclusion and improved equity throughout the city.
Additionally, the master plan will provide guidance for the short and long term, by identifying priorities and milestones to implement within the next five years including a proposed stormwater fee, pending consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other regulatory mandates. It will also include a long-term outlook with milestones for the next 25 years that will help to consider the effects of climate change.
"The Water Center/Penn Praxis Team is excited to offer its support to PWSA and the City of Pittsburgh in identifying new, innovative ways to managing its urban water resources,” Howard Neukrug, Executive Director of the Water Center at Penn said. “Our approach is to identify new water policies, tools, and practices that will help protect public health and property, both for the near term and tomorrow’s more uncertain climate futures,” Neukrug stated. “What makes this project so special for us is Pittsburgh's commitment to leverage this work with a strong eye towards social justice, equity, and inclusion. Our vision is to work with all of the city's stakeholders to make Pittsburgh a great global water city that is resilient and sustainable well into the future."
“Pittsburgh has a complex history with stormwater and the master planning process provides the opportunity to address it collectively with City leaders, community stakeholders, and local agencies,” Pickering stated. “We have an incredible opportunity to develop a comprehensive plan that identifies solutions to protect our ratepayers from the impacts of stormwater while providing greater sustainability and improved resiliency throughout Pittsburgh. The Water Center and PennPraxis have formed an exceptional team to guide us through this process.”
The cost to develop the master plan is $500,000. PWSA is contributing fifty percent of the cost and is seeking additional funding from local foundations.