Help Manage Stormwater

Stock image of people wearing yellow rain boots standing on a rain covered sidewalk

The way we think about stormwater is changing. There was a time when residents felt they had no choice but to live with a flooded basement or sewage backing up into their home. But that’s not the case any longer. 

  • It’s not healthy! State and Federal regulators require us to address sewage overflows and basement backups through improved stormwater infrastructure. 
  • There’s more rain. With heavier, intense and more frequent rainstorms, the number of flooding and backup events is increasing. We need to manage stormwater differently.
  • It’s expensive. Constantly cleaning your home after a flood adds up. And with increasing property values, residents want to protect their homes and investment. 

Here are some ideas and resources to help you manage stormwater. We encourage you to give these a try. Everyone in Pittsburgh needs to become part of the stormwater solution. 

Stormwater Solutions At Home

Everyday Practices

Image of a catch basin or storm drain on a city street

The little things you do everyday matter when it comes to managing stormwater, improving water quality and protecting your home from flooding and sewage. By following these simple steps, you can help keep our sewer system free and clear of debris, reduce the toxins entering our waterways, and better protect your home from the challenges caused by too much rain. 






  • Keep drains, gutters, and downspouts clean and free of debris
  • Don’t litter. Dispose of trash properly.
  • Don’t hand wash your car. Bring it to a carwash. 
  • Properly dispose of pet waste
  • Use fertilizer sparingly
  • Stop oil leaks immediately

To put these tips and more into practice, read the Actions You Can Take section on our Managing Separate Storm Sewers (MS4) webpage.

Green Infrastructure Techniques

Tree planting taking place in downtown Pittsburgh

Many homeowners in Pittsburgh have installed some green solutions to collect stormwater. Doing this is a positive way to help keep stormwater out of the sewer system, protect your home from runoff, and improve the environment. 

Rain Barrels: You can direct water from your roof into a rain barrel and then repurpose it to water your garden or wash your dog. There are a variety of sizes and styles available for purchase or you can make your own. 

Plant a Tree: Trees are our stormwater soldiers. They soak up more water than any type of vegetation and provide many environmental benefits. If you have room, plant one in your yard or organize a neighborhood planting. Use species that are native to Pennsylvania and can adapt to our climate. 

Install a Rain Garden: Rain gardens are designed like a bowl so they can capture and hold the rain during a storm. When it passes, the water slowly soaks into the ground. They range in complexity, use soils that are more absorbent, and work well with native plants or vegetation that can withstand our climate.

Permeable Pavers: If a future home improvement project involves repaving a driveway or walkway, or refinishing a deck or patio, consider permeable pavers. They use materials that absorb water and come in a variety of decorative styles that are nicer than concrete.

Southwestern PA’s Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater provides instructions for developing and implementing a stormwater management plan for your property. Visit to create your plan online and watch Penn State University's instructional videos.

Flood Preparedness at Home

Many people in Pittsburgh are all too familiar with the reality of flooded basements, and overflowing sewers. It’s scary and the clean up is expensive. But the cost of doing nothing is too great for your health, the value of your home, and your quality of life. 

Our flood preparedness page describes the type of flooding commonly experienced in Pittsburgh as well as safety tips to protect your family, home, and valuable documents before, during, and after a flood. 

Case Studies

Bringing mindfulness to our individual stormwater management practices can have benefits not only for our own properties, but also for our neighborhoods and our region at large. 

Our case studies page highlights the effective efforts of residents and commercial property owners in our area to do their part for our sewersheds.