Stormwater

Stock image of a steady rainfall falling onto pavement

As heavier and more intense rains are overwhelming our sewer system, stormwater management is a growing concern throughout Pittsburgh. With each heavy rain, sewage overflows into rivers and streams, floods our streets, and backups into basements. To solve the problem of too much stormwater, we are taking a more deliberate approach about the way it is managed across Pittsburgh.

In 2004 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a consent order to the City of Pittsburgh and other municipalities in Allegheny County. The order directs us to meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law of 1937 and the Federal Clean Water Act. We must meet state and federal mandates to reduce the volume of combined sewer overflows and basement backups. This is a serious public health issue that impacts water quality and the health and safety of our residents. 

The following plans describe our approach to managing stormwater. Rather than directing all that extra water into a network of pipes, we are distributing the collection of rainwater into a series of stormwater infrastructure projects across the city. This distributed approach will help to capture, absorb, hold back, and slow the flow of stormwater. 

These methods use a combination of green and gray infrastructure and integrate into the natural environment. It is a cost-effective approach that will help to create safe, flood-prepared neighborhoods.

Stormwater Plans

Stormwater Management Master Plan Request for Proposals

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority and the City of Pittsburgh will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop a stormwater master plan for Pittsburgh. The RFP seeks to engage a visionary project team to develop a global model that would serve as Pittsburgh’s blueprint to address local stormwater challenges. 

Using the p4 framework of People, Planet, Place, and Performance, the stormwater management master plan will provide an innovative, inclusive, and sustainable way to address one of our region’s most challenging problems. 

The RFP will require bidders to utilize the p4 framework to provide innovative strategies including the following: 

  • Recommend an approach that prioritizes collaboration of interagency partnerships and identifies opportunities to create a more equitable community through better stormwater management and job creation through the expanded use of green infrastructure. 
  • Address all applicable regulatory requirements and identify best management practices that would incentivize and encourage private property owners to be part of the solution. 
  • Provide performance recommendations to balance the use of green and gray infrastructure, outline appropriate uses for green infrastructure to accommodate Pittsburgh’s difficult terrain, and determine the level of stormwater protection across the city.
  • Analyze other plans in place to recommend distinct outcomes that are beneficial to ratepayers and benefit the community through green infrastructure. It’s critical to consider the cost to ratepayers and act efficiently so that they are not paying twice for the same solution.  

Issuing this RFP demonstrates a significant step in PWSA and the City of Pittsburgh’s leadership in community resiliency and sustainable stormwater management. The project has not been assigned a cost in an effort to elicit responses that are not constrained by a set funding amount. Instead, PWSA and the City will evaluate responses and present this funding opportunity to private partners, philanthropic organizations, and other government agencies who have expressed interest in a comprehensive approach to managing stormwater.  Visit our Solicitations Page to review the full RFP.

Saw Mill Run Integrated Watershed Management Plan

An image of Saw Mill Run along the Seldom Seen Trail

The Saw Mill Run Integrated Watershed Management Plan recognizes the need to manage stormwater across municipal boundaries. This multi-agency partnership includes the 12 municipalities within the Saw Mill Run Watershed, the Saw Mill Run Watershed Association, Economic Development South, the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Integrated watershed planning uses a combination of green and gray infrastructure to manage stormwater. It is potentially more cost-effective, and can result in additional economic, social, and environmental benefits. It also considers pollutant sources in the watershed to holistically address water quality challenges.  

The Saw Mill Run Integrated Watershed Management Plan will establish a long-term strategy for investment in green stormwater infrastructure and create lasting community benefits that will reconnect people to the natural surroundings of the stream. 

Through this collaboration, municipalities can leverage funds and invest in capital projects that will improve water quality and provide additional benefits for those living and working in the Saw Mill Run communities. Download the Scope of Work.

Citywide Green First Plan

In 2016 the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority developed the Citywide Green First Plan. It outlines how Pittsburgh intends to use cost-effective green infrastructure solutions to manage stormwater. Implementing the plan will reduce local street flooding and sewer backups caused by large rainstorms. These innovative practices will also help Pittsburgh and the region comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) combined sewer overflow mandates and improve the quality of local waterways.

The Public Summary and Executive Summary provide an easy to understand overview of the Citywide Green First Plan. A full version of the plan is also available for download or you can explore the chapters that are most interesting to you. 

Public Summary

Executive Summary

Citywide Green First Plan 

Full Plan Table of Contents

Acronyms and Abbreviations

Executive Summary

Introduction

1. Planning and Sequencing

2. Establish Target Green Infrastructure Management Level Goals

3. Green Infrastructure Modeling Approach Using GIS and SWMM

4. Flood Hazard Mitigation Analysis

5. Stream Inflow Improvements Analysis

6. Urban Planning and Green Infrastructure

     6.1. Green First Approach and Process

     6.2. M-29 Four Mile Run

     6.3. A-42 Washington Boulevard and Negley Run

     6.4. M-16 South Side/South 21st Street

     6.5. A-41 Heth's Run

     6.6. M-19 Soho Run 

     6.7. O-27 Woods Run

     6.8 Review: Integrated GI Approach and Meeting the Guiding Principles

7. Cost Estimates Development 

8. Triple Bottom Line Development

9. Citywide GI Assessment Summary

PWSA Wet Weather Feasibility Study, Executive Summary

In July 2013, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority submitted its Wet Weather Feasibility Study to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). This executive summary outlines the objectives of the study. 

  • Identify and present technology and cost analyses for determining combined sewer overflow control alternatives
  • Establish the framework for the use of green stormwater technologies and integrated watershed planning
  • Participate and cooperate with ALCOSAN in the development of their Wet Weather Plan
  • Evaluate a range of alternatives to meet the requirements addressed in the consent order    

Executive Summary

Greening the Pittsburgh Wet Weather Plan

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority hosted a series of workshops to begin a discussion about the use of green infrastructure to manage stormwater. These workshops were attended by representatives from the public, private and non-profit sectors with the primary objective to develop a consensus approach to reviewing, recommending and incorporating a plan for the implementation of green stormwater technologies and policies into stormwater management planning for Pittsburgh. 

The discussion recognized a need to identify appropriate leadership and partnerships to move these concepts forward, establishing a stormwater authority for the City of Pittsburgh, and to initiate a community-based education and engagement campaign. It also began setting the stage for the creation of our Citywide Green First Plan and the Saw Mill Run Integrated Watershed Management Plan.

Greening the Pittsburgh Wet Weather Plan