Mayor Peduto, Members of Clean Rivers Campaign See 'Green' in
23 January 2014
By Melissa Daniels, Staff Reporter
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Melissa Daniels 412-380-8511
Instead of stormwater rushing through enormous subterranean
tunnels, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto envisions canals winding
next to bike lanes in Hazelwood and Lawrenceville and stormwater
retention ponds in Larimer, Garfield and Homewood.
Instead of “grey” stormwater infrastructure, Peduto favors
That's what he and members of the Clean Rivers Campaign want to
see included in the $2 billion Allegheny County Sanitary Authority
(Alcosan) stormwater system upgrade aimed at reducing the
estimated 9 billion gallons of sewage overflows that annually run
into the region's waterways during heavy rainfalls. Though canals
are not typical, “daylighting” of stormwater infrastructure often
includes catching and processing rainfall by using permeable
pavement, stormwater management planters, rain gardens and
“It's the largest public works project we'll ever see in our
lifetime, or in our children's lifetime,” Peduto said. “All these
areas where big pipes are to be underground, I'd like to be able
to see them above ground.”
But Alcosan spokeswoman Nancy Barylak said green infrastructure
solutions were not included in the plan submitted to the
Environmental Protection Agency because of a lack of hard data on
their success, combined with the time frame to comply with the
federal court order triggering the upgrade.
“Across the country, there's no real way of testing that yet,” she
said. “We were under a deadline of just a few years to get this
plan in, and the plan is to address water quality.”
The Clean Rivers Campaign and some ratepayers are concerned the
Alcosan plan is too costly and worry about the impact dramatic
rate increases tied with the improvements will have on the
region's lower-income households. They attended the Alcosan board
meeting on Thursday to urge the board to form a customer
assistance program to help poor families facing rate increases of
17 percent beginning this month and nearly 60 percent total over
Emily Alvarado, interim director of the Clean Rivers Campaign,
said before the meeting that utilities, other cities and
authorities have customer assistance programs. The programs
improve nonpayment rates and save costs associated with
collections and service disconnections and the working capital
associated with arrears, she said.
“We need to make sure that low-income families are not hurt by
this federally mandated fix. It's good for public health, it's
good for families and it's good for municipalities to make sure
that our lowest income neighbors maintain sanitary water and
wastewater service,” Alvarado said.
In the meantime, Barylak said Alcosan is still waiting on EPA
approval of its consent decree plan submission a year ago. The
authority has a green infrastructure study scheduled for
completion by December and the 83 municipalities who feed into the
countywide system can pursue green solutions in concert with
Alcosan or on their own, she said.
“I think it's just a matter of how it will be implemented,” she
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has plans for a $9
million green infrastructure plan in the Saw Mill Run watershed to
address raw sewage overflow. Melissa Rubin, authority spokeswoman,
said the plan is still being drafted, but is funded through 2018.
Larry Levine, a senior attorney with the National Resources
Defense Council, said green stormwater solutions on a citywide
scale have yet to be seen through. Philadelphia is in the third
year of a 25-year plan to implement a green infrastructure, though
such systems still require pipes, pumps and a treatment plant.
Overall, Levine said, green infrastructure brings benefits to
Levine's research shows consumers are willing to pay 8 to 12
percent more for products at a shopping plaza with green additions
like a tree canopy. At a 32-unit apartment building, a green roof
and 12 large trees contribute to a $37,500 jump in property value.
As for the type of retention pond basins Peduto envisions in
vacant lots throughout the city, Levine said they're a “creative
repurposing” for spaces where the land and funding allow it.
Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be
reached at 412-380-8511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5458153-74/alcosan-plan-epa#ixzz2rIvXNJrL