Water Reliability Plan

Phased improvements graphic of the Water Reliability Plan

The Water Reliability Plan is a series of once-in-a-generation projects that will modernize our water distribution system and provide customers with more secure and reliable water services

History

History

Pittsburgh's water system was built at the turn of the 20th century. These early engineers developed a system that made the best possible use of our natural water resources and topography to effectively distribute drinking water from the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh's neighborhoods. 

 

As the city grew in population and size, engineers constructed additional reservoirs and pumping stations. Our early water treatment and distribution system, still used today, uses a combination of pumps to carry water from the Aspinwall Treatment Plant along the Allegheny River to reservoirs located at higher elevations and gravity to continue its distribution. 

Historic photo of a sewer pipe installation in Pittsburgh

Distribution Process

Distribution Process

Infographic of PGH2O water treatment process

The Allegheny River is the source of our drinking water. Once we draw water from the river, it processes through the Water Treatment Plant before arriving at your tap as drinking water. We produce approximately 65 - 75 million gallons of water every day, and it can take up to three days for the water to complete the treatment process. 

 

Once treatment is finished, the water enters the distribution system. Through a complex network, water is pumped to reservoirs and tanks that store treated drinking water. As it leaves these storage facilities, gravity creates pressure to push water through miles of pipes to your home or business. 

The Plan to Bypass the Clearwell

The Plan to Bypass the Clearwell

Bypassing the Clearwell is the critical final step to complete the Water Reliability Plan. It was built more than a century ago with no redundancy to take it offline. While it is under construction, treated drinking water will be sent to other parts of the distribution system – giving us the necessary space to work on the existing facility. 

What is the Clearwell?

The Clearwell is a large, century-old water storage facility that is used to dose water with chlorine to kill any harmful bacteria or pathogens in the water. It is a unique component in our system and provides a crucial treatment step for the health and safety of our water. Since there is only one Clearwell, PWSA engineers must phase their work so they can prepare to chlorinate water elsewhere while the Clearwell is under construction. As the last of these Water Reliability projects, this project will be a $67 million investment in PWSA’s water future.  

Historic photo of crews constructing original Clearwell circa 1906 Crews build original Clearwell in 1906

Modern Engineering Solutions

Photo of pipes at Bruecken pump station

Using this plan, we will send water from the Water Treatment Plant directly to Lanpher Reservoir in Shaler Township and the Highland II Reservoir in Highland Park. These reservoirs are large enough to use as temporary clearwells, where water will be chlorinated, achieve the necessary contact time, and sent out into the distribution system. By rerouting water to these reservoirs, we can safely accomplish the work at the Clearwell. When complete, the future Clearwell will have multiple cells to allow for future maintenance and repair without having to redirect the path of water.

 

Preparing the water system for this change is no easy feat. Several projects must first take place to adjust the treatment process and reroute the path of water through our service area. These capital projects include rehabilitating the Aspinwall and Bruecken Pump Stations, replacing reservoir liners and cover systems, updating electrical and backup power systems, restoring pump stations, and repairing or replacing various large-diameter water mains throughout the system.

 

Some necessary projects for the implementation of the Clearwell have already begun, including design on the Lanpher Rising Main Project and the rehab of the Highland Park Rising Main and Pump Station.

Aerial photo of the covered Highland II Reservoir

Water Reliability Plan Projects

Animated GiF image of Water Reliability Plan

The projects making up the Water Reliability Plan will happen sequentially and work together to fortify the system so it is ready to supply continuous water service during the final, and biggest project, the complete restoration of the Clearwell. 

 

Over the next five years, PWSA will invest nearly $470 million in large-scale water improvement projects. This comprehensive series of projects will provide a resilient and redundant water system that the people of Pittsburgh can rely on for many years to come. 

Highland II Reservoir Liner and Cover Replacement

Highland II Reservoir Liner and Cover Replacement

Rendering of the new Highland Park pump station.

The liner and cover of the Highland II Reservoir will be replaced, in addition to baffles, rainwater removal pumps, control, panels, and other associated components. While the Clearwell is replaced, this reservoir will serve as a temporary clearwell. 

Highland Park Pump Station and Rising Mains

Highland Park Pump Station and Rising Mains

A new pump station will be built to replace the existing Pump Station, near the intersection of N. Negley Avenue and Mellon Terrace. The existing pump station will be demolished. New supply mains will built to connect the Highland II Reservoir to the new pump station, and new rising mains will be built to connect the new pump station to the surrounding water system. The new pump station will have an increased pumping capacity and will serve as a redundant supply to both the Highland II and Highland I Reservoirs' systems. 

Aspinwall Pump Station to Lanpher Reservoir Rising Main Project

Aspinwall Pump Station to Lanpher Reservoir Rising Main Project

 Installation of the Lanpher Rising Main

This project will build a five-mile-long, 48-inch pipe to carry water from the Water Treatment Plant to the Lanpher Reservoir, located in Shaler Township. The new pipe will add redundancy to this portion of the system, allowing PWSA to use Lanpher Reservoir as a temporary clearwell. 

Learn more

Aspinwall Pump Station Improvements

Aspinwall Pump Station Improvements

Photo inside of Ross Pumping Station in the Water Treatment Plant campus.

Improvements to the Aspinwall Pump Station will include four new pumping units, electrical upgrades, and building renovations. 

Learn more

Bruecken Pump Station Upgrades

Bruecken Pump Station Upgrades

A new pump station will be constructed next to the existing station, housing six new pumps, electrical upgrades, and a new electrical substation. The existing station will be repurposed at a later date.  

Rising Mains 3 & 4 Rehabilitation and Replacement

Rising Mains 3 & 4 Rehabilitation and Replacement

Construction continuing on the Rising Mains 3 and 4 Project.

These large-diameter pipes carry water from the Bruecken Pump Station to the Highland II Reservoir. Extensive surveying work was completed on both pipes to determine how to rehabilitate the pipes where possible, and where portions must be replaced. Approximately 1,900 feet of Rising Main 3 will be replaced by excavating the pipe, while another approximately 3,900 feet will be rehabilitated using lining technology. Approximately 200 feet of Rising Main 4 will be replaced by excavating the pipe, while another approximately 2,500 feet will be rehabilitated through lining. 

Learn more

Clearwell Bypass Project

Clearwell Bypass Project

This project will construct a large diameter in-ground piping system around the existing 44-million-gallon Clearwell. It will provide emergency or planned bypassing of the filtered water from the Aspinwall Water Treatment Plant Filter Building around the existing clearwell to the Aspinwall and Bruecken Pump Stations. This project will include replacing an existing fluoride chemical feed building and constructing an overflow structure with de-chlorination equipment.

Clearwell Replacement

Clearwell Replacement

The Clearwell is a 44-million gallon basin that plays a key role in the water treatment process. As a last step of treatment, water enters the Clearwell to be treated with chlorine, killing any bacteria or pathogens that may be in the water. This component of the system is reaching the end of its useful life and does not have any redundancy in the system. The suite of Water Reliability Plan projects will lay the necessary groundwork to take the Clearwell offline. Reservoirs throughout the system will act as temporary clearwells while the primary Clearwell is replaced. 

This project will replace the Clearwell structure with a new one, complete with bypasses and other modern fixtures to ensure reliable water service for the future.