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

GIF of Water Reliability Plan phases

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 $300 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 Improvements

Highland II Reservoir Improvements

Rendering of the new Highland Park pump station.

The Highland II Reservoir is one of the largest water storage facilities in our service area, providing water to most of the East End of Pittsburgh as well as some of the South Side and West End. We will replace the reservoir cover, rehab the pump station, and complete rehab work on the rising main coming from the reservoir will ensure reliable service for years to come. 

Lanpher Rising Main

Lanpher Rising Main

 Installation of the Lanpher Rising Main

This project will be a five-mile-long, 48-inch pipe to carry water from the Water Treatment Plant to the Lanpher Reservoir, located in Hampton Township.

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Water Treatment Plant Electrical Power and Backup Projects

Water Treatment Plant Electrical Power and Backup Projects

Historical illustration of Water Treatment Plant at Aspinwall

These efforts will ensure our pump stations are in good condition will help to maintain good water pressure throughout our water service area. 

Water Treatment Plant Pump Station Upgrades

Water Treatment Plant Pump Station Upgrades

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

Ensuring our pump stations are in good condition will help to maintain good water pressure throughout our water service area. 

Rising Mains 3 & 4 Upgrades

Rising Mains 3 & 4 Upgrades

Construction continuing on the Rising Mains 3 and 4 Project.

These large-diameter pipes carry water from the Water Treatment Plant to the Highland Reservoirs. Making any repairs to these pipes will ensure there is reliable water service to many of our customers.