Pittsburgh, PA - Today Mayor William Peduto and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority proclaimed that August is Sewer Awareness Month in Pittsburgh.
"Pittsburghers take immense pride in their neighborhoods. Sewers are critical to thriving communities and public health, but we take them for granted. We declared August to be Sewer Awareness Month because we want everyone to understand how vital sewer infrastructure is to a healthy Pittsburgh and we want everyone to do their part to keep the sewers flowing as they are designed to do,” said Mayor William Peduto.
For more than 100 years, sewers have delivered incredible public health benefits to the people of Pittsburgh. Well-functioning sewers serve a sanitary function, and protect the environment, diverting stormwater and sewage to a treatment plant instead of overflowing into streams and rivers. Since everyone is accustomed to seeing water go down the drain or disappear into a storm grate, sewers are often out of sight and mind. Some people have gotten in the habit of flushing things, putting things down the drain, and even pouring things into storm grates that don’t belong in our sewers – all of which have a negative and costly impact on our infrastructure and the environment.
“The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is investing over $150 million over the next five years to rehabilitate aging sewer lines and reconstruct critical components of our sewer system so it will serve Pittsburgh for the next 100 years,” said Will Pickering, CEO of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. “By celebrating our sewers, we ask each Pittsburgh resident, business owner, and visitor to recognize the essential service our sewers provide that is critical to public health and protecting the environment.”
For Sewer Awareness Month, PWSA is sharing some history and facts about Pittsburgh's water system so Pittsburghers can get acquainted with the engineering marvel that is beneath their feet:
- In 1840 Pittsburgh's first sewers were built in Shadyside and Oakland. By 1908 there were 390 miles of sewers in the ground, forming the origins of the system that is still in use today. Most of Pittsburgh’s sewers are over 75-100 years old.
- Today, PWSA has more than 1,200 miles of sewers in its system. If we laid those sewer pipes out end to end, they’d stretch from Pittsburgh to Dallas.
- The flow in the sewers moves from homes, businesses, and storm grates to ALCOSAN treatment plants, where wastewater is treated and cleaned, and then released back into our rivers. Pittsburgh’s sewers mostly rely on gravity to move contents to ALCOSAN treatment plants, but PWSA also has four wastewater pump stations to help move things along.
- Of the 1,200+ miles, the system is about 70% “combined” sewer mains, meaning both wastewater and stormwater flow through it. The remaining 30% is “separated” sewers, meaning we have separate sewer lines for stormwater and wastewater.
PWSA will release more information during August about how to protect our sewers. Learn more about the history of Pittsburgh's sewer infrastructure here.