Partnership for Working Families highlights Clean Rivers Campaign

PWFLogoIn an article for its blog and recent newsletter to it’s national network, the Partnership for Working Families highlighted all the incredible work that we’ve done over the last four years.

“The Clean Rivers Campaign has dramatically shifted the dialogue in the Pittsburgh region, but the fight isn’t over yet,” PWF said in the post.

The Partnership is right. We’ve made incredible progress to make sure green infrastructure that creates good jobs and invests in our communities is a key piece of the path forward in fixing our sewers. But we still have to ensure that green infrastructure comes before investments in gray infrastructure that could prove unneeded if green solutions are applied first.

You can read the full blog post and learn more about the Partnership for Working Families on their website.

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Beyond Tunnel Vision: Good Jobs & Green Communities – Lessons from Kansas City

Did you see the big news? Mayor Peduto and County Executive Fitzgerald, with the support of ALCOSAN, submitted a letter to the EPA calling for agreen-first, green-preferred plan to fix our sewer system.  Their request includes  a 10-year window in which our region can improve and maintain our current system and expand our treatment plan all while investing in large-scale green infrastructure in our communities.

This new plan will ensure that ratepayers and communities benefit from this once in a lifetime public investment. Thanks to your support and hard work, this shared vision can now become a reality! Now, we have an opportunity to see how this vision can transform our region.

Join the Clean Rivers Campaign, and our co-sponsors, Phipps Conservatory and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, for a public presentation on how a green-first, green-preferred approach worked in Kansas City and what potential these concepts have in Pittsburgh. Featuring Tim Duggan and Jason Parson, the architects of Kansas City’s plan to maximize green infrastructure, neighborhood investment, and community engagement, as well as Richard Piacentini, Director of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden.

Beyond Tunnel Vision: Good Jobs & Green Communities – Lessons from Kansas City 
March 9th, at 6pm (reception at 5pm) 
Phipps Conservatory, Sarris Event Suite 

Click here to RSVP or for more information

We look forward to seeing you there!

CRC_full_color_logo_transparent    PPC-h-green-rgb 2015    Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

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ALCOSAN’s Drop Shaft Plan Exposed

This morning, November 19th, members of the Clean Rivers Campaign, Riverlife, Bike Pittsburgh, PCRG, the Parks Conservancy, Pittsburgh United, and other community, labor, and faith allies stood together for a press conference exposing for the first time ALCOSAN’s new tunnel and drop shaft plan. 

Joined by Kevin Acklin, Chief of Staff to Mayor Peduto, we covered Allegheny Landing with 8,000 square feet of black tarp to demonstrate the devastating impact ALCOSAN’s plan will have on our riverfronts. Community, political, and philanthropic groups stand united in the fight to ensure that this project invests in our communities rather than destroys years of revitalization and economic development along our rivers.

Join us on Tuesday, November 24th for a City Council hearing on ALCOSAN’s 2016 budget. Let’s stand together to hold ALCOSAN accountable to the demands of ratepayers in Pittsburgh!

City Council ALCOSAN Budget Hearing
November 24th, at 10am
Pittsburgh City County Building, City Council Chambers 5th Floor
RSVP Online

Check out this morning’s action in the news!

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Bakery Square 2.0 Green Infrastructure Tour

Recently, members of the Clean Rivers Campaign had the chance to visit the green infrastructure projects that are part of Bakery Square 2.0 in East Side. The Bakery Square development started with the Google offices and shopping center located on Penn Avenue. Across the street, the next phase of Bakery Square has already taken shape. A bright red and blue apartment building is housing residents and more office space is being constructed next door.

During the construction of the apartment building the developer, Walnut Capital, was required by the city to address the stormwater on the property. Walnut Capital chose to do so by using several different green infrastructure methods. Rain gardens rest along the streets outside of the building. Each rain garden rests about a foot or two below street level. The streets meet stretches of porous pavement. Water flows through the porous pavement and the rain garden into biorentention soil and gravel beds. This process reduces the chance of water runoff into the sewer system. It allows the ground to absorb the water under the Bakery Square development. This system is repeated throughout Bakery Square 2.0.

Walnut Capital constructed an underground parking garage, not visible from the street, in its new development. A green roof lies on top of this extensive garage. Although the green roof is on top of the parking garage, it is at street level and does not immediately appear to be a green roof. The roof was created with particular grass and plants that absorb the rainwater that falls on the development. This was a very creative project and one we had not seen before. Walnut Capital was able to create an attractive lawn area for its residents while addressing any possible runoff despite the main structure being underground.

The development is also home to a large rain garden behind the building. Downspouts from the building end in this rain garden, diverting water from the sewer system. Walnut Capital and its residents have already seen the green infrastructure projects at work. The representatives on the tour have not seen the projects fill with water, and indication of their effectiveness at allowing water to enter back into the ground. Walnut Capital has felt the benefits of green infrastructure as their property does not incur damage from flooding or excess water. The residents of Bakery Square 2.0 feel the benefits as attractive landscaping surrounds their living space.

Walnut Capital already has plans to improve upon the green infrastructure projects that exist after assessing how they function in an active residential area. As they continue to construct new buildings along Penn Avenue, they have plans for additional green infrastructure projects including using rainwater catchment to water landscaping and to create a pond.

It is always very exciting for the Clean Rivers Campaign to witness real green infrastructure projects that are working in the Pittsburgh area. It was affirming to hear from the people utilizing this approach that it is worthwhile and beneficial.

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Municipalities Receive Extension to Pursue Green Infrastructure

The Clean Rivers Campaign has been educating consumers and urging ALCOSAN and regional leaders to adopt a green first approach to solving our sewer overflow problem since 2011.  This approach is the only one that takes ratepayer money and returns not only clean rivers but community benefits like green spaces, reduced flooding, jobs, and other community improvements.  Monday’s announcement by the DEP is an important step towards ensuring ratepayer dollars are invested in communities, not simply buried under our rivers.

We are pleased that the DEP is taking such an active role in promoting green infrastructure in our region.  Requiring municipalities to complete green plans in exchange for an extension on their consent orders is a great first step. But now we must ensure that those plans are coordinated and we must pursue a regional green infrastructure assessment.  That coordination and cooperation will allow our region to create a plan that places green infrastructure strategically and effectively rather than just municipality by municipality.  A coordinated approach will yield a plan that maximizes green infrastructure for flow reduction, brings our region the best water quality, most community benefits, and most cost effective solutions by allowing us to rightsize our gray infrastructure.

Mayor Peduto and County Executive Fitzgerald have been great advocates of green infrastructure in this endeavor, and we praise their leadership.  In other cities and regions where green plans are underway, visionary leadership, both political and within the authority, has been critical to successful planning and implementation of sustainable wet weather controls.  Without leadership, our region will miss out on an opportunity to use this largest ever public works investment to the benefit of both our water quality and our communities.   With the Mayor and County Executive’s leadership and the DEP’s support, we have made important progress toward greening our plan, now we must coordinate as a region, identify world-class leaders for our plan, and move forward.

Below is the media coverage of the DEP extension:

Peduto, County Officials Seek ‘Green’ Solution To Water & Sewer

Local officials ask for more time for ALCOSAN fix KDKA (Video)

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County plead for more time to plan sewer overflow compliance

Pittsburgh, Allegheny County scramble to prepare for sewage upgrade

Stay on track: It’s important to push forward on sewer upgrades

DEP gives Alcosan customer municipalities more time to deal with sewage overflows

Also appears in:
My Informs
Waste Water Infrastructure News
World News

DEP grants 18-month extension on stormwater control effort

State gives extension to add ‘green’ solutions to sewer woes

DEP Extends Alcosan’s Wastewater Overflow Order To Pursue Green Infrastructure

photo 4 (1)

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CRC Gets a Win Toward CAP!

The Clean Rivers Campaign had a big week last week. On Monday, March 23rd, campaign supporters gathered in Market Square downtown to seek petition signatures asking ALCOSAN to create a Customer Assistance Program (CAP). A CAP would protect our low and fixed income neighbors who will be affected most by rate increases. Thanks to the action downtown and other canvassing efforts, CRC collected over 2,000 signatures on the petition.

On March 26th, CRC continued efforts to create a CAP. Arriving at ALCOSAN, supporters had assembled all of the petition signatures into a banner showing the strong support from the community. As ALCOSAN Board members arrived for their meeting, chants began, “We Need A CAP!”. Supporters then attended the Board Meeting where they heard Chairman John Weinstein announce the creation of a subcommittee which will work with ALCOSAN staff to create a CAP. This is the first step in creating a CAP program but, it’s not a done deal!

This is a great victory for the Clean Rivers Campaign!  But we still have a lot to do in creating a green first plan and ensuring the implementation of a CAP to protect our most vulnerable neighbors.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our actions and who signed our petition! Below is the media coverage of our two actions and our win:

Activists Call On Alcosan to Create Customer Assistance Program for Low-Income Residents

Coalition says people need help to pay increasing sewer bills

Sanitary Authority Overhaul Expected To Take Toll On Low-Income

Clean Rivers Campiagn Seeks Customer Assistance Program KDKA(Video)

Clean Rivers Campaign seeks customer assistance program WTAE (Video)

KDKA Radio Story

ALCOSAN Creates Subcommittee to Develop Customer Assistance Program

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Millvale Neighborhood Eco Walking Tour

Last weekend, we ended our walking tour series, where it began, in Millvale. Participants joined us Saturday morning to revisit a few projects as well as learn about new ones Millvale has implemented.

In April, we kicked off our walking tour series in Millvale. At only 0.65 square miles and a population of 3,700, the amount of green infrastructure in Millvale was impressive and they have added to that list since. In recent history, the community has installed several rain gardens, an urban farm and community gardens.

You can read about our first walking tour in Millvale, in the blog post from that tour, here.

Brian shows off the rain garden and rain barrels in the backyard of the library.

Brian shows off the rain garden and rain barrels in the backyard of the library.

Our tour began at the Millvale community library. The April tour visited the expansive rain garden and several rain barrels the library has in its yard. During our September tour, we also learned about how the library has added solar panels to its roof. Now, it receives all of its energy from the panels. Brian Wolovich, from Millvale Council, joined us here. Brian was integral to making the library what it is today as well as spearheading many other green initiatives around town. The library is very much a community amenity for Millvale and it was a community effort to build the building. With the library’s green infrastructure, the community continues to benefit as the rain barrels and rain garden have collected rain water before it can enter the sewer system and cause flooding. Many in Millvale have experienced the devastating effects of flooding but they have also seen that green infrastructure can be a solution to this problem.

Farmer Tom shows off his urban farm.

Farmer Tom shows off his urban farm.

Next, we headed to the urban farm in Millvale and met up with Tom, a resident of Millvale who created and continues to manage the farm. Tom’s farm is active with an array of vegetables and a busy bee hive. The produce of Tom’s farm is sold at the local farmer’s market. Tom also organizes events related to the farm including a workshop on how to make sauerkraut from cabbage grown on the farm. During our tour, Tom shared garlic he had grown with the participants. Some planned on replanting the herb in their own garden. Tom works with the rain to maintain his farm, allowing his plants to absorb any rain that falls. If he experiences a dry season, Tom also has two rain barrels attached to his house which he can use to water the plants when necessary.

The beginnings of a greenhouse in the community gardens of Millvale.

The beginnings of a greenhouse in the community gardens of Millvale.

From the farm, the tour headed to the community gardens in Millvale. Mandy Wolovich, co-chair of the gardens, met us to explain how the community works to maintain the gardens. Several raised beds cover a former empty lot in Millvale. Community members rent a portion of a raised bed to plant and maintain. Across the street from the gardens is an orchard. Since our April tour, the community gardens group added a greenhouse to the grounds. They hope to grow winter vegetables inside.

The group checks out the rain garden in a municipal parking lot in Millvale.

The group checks out the rain garden in a municipal parking lot in Millvale.

Next, we headed to the rain garden in Millvale’s municipal parking lot. After visiting this site in April, it was great to see the garden during a different season as the plants had grown. At each rain garden we visited, residents of Millvale commented they have never seen the gardens overflow and that within a few hours the rain water is absorbed into the ground, an indication of the garden working efficiently and accomplishing its goal.

Finally, the tour headed back to Grant Ave (with a detour at the bakery of course!) for a new stop. Brian Wolovich joined us again to describe an exciting new project for the borough, the Millvale Town Square and Grange. The community recently purchased a building formerly inhabited by a furniture store. They plan to expand on the community amenity that is the farmer’s market while offering new opportunities to residents. Through some rehabilitation of the building, the farmer’s market will expand, residents will have greater access to food and office space will become available on the upper floors. Plans for the building include offering classes on urban agriculture.

Brian Wolovich shows off the future site of the Millvale Town Square and Grange project.

Brian Wolovich shows off the future site of the Millvale Town Square and Grange project.

An optional stop on the tour was Mt Alvernia. A former high school and current residencefor Sisters of St. Francis, Mt. Alvernia sits atop a hill in Millvale. Last year, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and TreeVitalize worked with the Sisters to install two bioswales on the campus. Today, a bioswale runs along Hawthrone Ave. It is one of the largest in the region. A second lies in the parking lot of the campus. Those on the tour, who were interested, joined us at Mt. Alvernia to meet Marah Vecenie. Marah works for TreeVitalize and was integral to creating and installing the bioswales. Now she coordinates their monitoring and maintenance. Like the rain gardens throughout Millvale, the Sisters and TreeVitalize have seen the efficiency of the bioswales during rain storms, witnessing that they never overflow and quickly absorb the water. The location of these bioswales was strategic. Hawthrone Road is quite steep and intersects with a major road in Millvale. Helping to mitigate flooding on this road benefits the whole community. In addition, the bioswale located in the parking lot also sits at the bottom of a hill and has significant water flow in its direction.

Marah Vecenie of TreeVitalize shares the story of installing bioswales at Mt. Alvernia.

Marah Vecenie of TreeVitalize shares the story of installing bioswales at Mt. Alvernia.

It was great for us to end our tour in Millvale. We are very excited for all that they have accomplished and what they have planned. Thank you to everyone who joined us on our walking tour series. We enjoyed meeting all of you in the community and experiencing these projects together. Our goal was to give anyone and everyone the opportunity to see firsthand how green infrastructure works and how it can benefit a community. We hope our participants learned something new about green infrastructure and can take that knowledge back to their own community.

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Hazelwood Neighborhood Eco Walking Tour

Last Saturday, August 30th, we continued our walking tour series in the Hazelwood neighborhood. We were joined by great community members and guest speakers who shared with us the green infrastructure that has been implemented, plans for future projects and what they hope to see happen in the community.

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The group gathers at the Operating Engineers building to learn about their bioswale and permeable pavement.

Our tour started at the Operating Engineers building on Saline Street. The group of about thirty gathered to hear from Clean Rivers Campaign Director Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy who introduced the campaign, the tour series and Hazelwood. Each participant shared with the group their name, where they were from and whether they had visited Hazelwood before. Many in the group had not been to the neighborhood but all were excited to learn more about it and see the projects it had created.

While at the Operating Engineers, the group stopped to see the bioswale and permeable pavement which surround the building. Interestingly, the Clean Rivers Campaign kicked off at that very building two years ago.

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The group on the ALMONO site with the building RIDC hopes to rehabilitate and use for light manufacturing to the right.

Next, the group travelled to the ALMONO site. This site was home to a steel mill which closed many years ago. Since its closing, several local foundations partnered to purchase and revitalize the site. Nate from the Regional Industrial Development Corporation, or RIDC, was nice enough to join us that morning and take us on a tour of the ALMONO site. The organizations involved in the project hope to bring mixed used buildings and light manufacturers to the site and they hope to add green infrastructure in the process. Currently, a building from the old steel mill still stands on the land. RIDC hopes to rehabilitate that building for the light manufacturers. Hazelwood residents on the tour hope the rehabilitation of the ALMONO site benefits Hazelwood and brings things the community needs like a grocery store and jobs for residents.

The group then moved on to two different community gardens in the neighborhood. Jim McCue, a long time Hazelwood resident, helps to manage the community gardens in the area and joined us on Saturday.

Participants check out the first of two community gardens in Hazelwood.

Participants check out the first of two community gardens in Hazelwood.

From there, the group moved to an empty lot below Second Avenue in Hazelwood. This lot was formerly a popular playground for kids. At this site, Hazelwood residents and Action United members Ms. Hazel, Crystal and Jenny spoke about what they hope to see happen in their community. Jenny grew up in Hazelwood and fondly remembers playing at that playground. All three women want to see the lot become a safe place for the neighborhood kids to play. They also hope to see proposed green infrastructure be installed alongside the playground.

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Hazelwood residents and Action United members share what they hope to see happen in their community.

Once on Second Avenue, the group stopped at another lot the community hopes to transform. There, Ms. Hazel shared her hopes to see green infrastructure be utilized in her community, especially permeable pavement. Situated along the Monongahela River, Hazelwood is prone to flooding and has experienced devastating effects of it in the past. Ms. Hazel explained how installing permeable pavement in that very lot could help alleviate the community of its flooding problems.

Finally, the group stopped at the Hazelwood Carnegie Library. The new library has many green amenities including several rain gardens in the front and back of the building. Librarian, Mary Ann McHarq, joined us to talk about the library and the gardens. The community hopes these gardens can also help with the flooding Hazelwood experiences.

From there, many tour participants stayed later to see a community festival with music and a farmer’s market as well as the community garden at the local YMCA and a food forest created by community members.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our tour in Hazelwood! With our largest group so far, it was a great and interactive experience.

Don’t forget! We don’t have many walking tours left. Be sure to catch one before the series ends. This month, September, we will revisit Millvale. Millvale was the first tour in our series. The tour encompassed many impressive green infrastructure projects that the community had installed. They have accomplished even more since then so be sure to check it out. Head over to our events page to register.

Also, check out more pictures from this and other events on our Facebook page.

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Etna Neighborhood Eco Walking Tour

Welcome to Etna!

Welcome to Etna!

Our walking tour series continued this past Saturday, June 28th 2014, in Etna, PA. The borough of Etna, “… is a small bustling community covering one square mile along the banks of the Allegheny River, and is bordered on three sides by Millvale, Shaler Township, and Sharpsburg. Centrally located, Etna is just 10 minutes … from downtown Pittsburgh … Once a mill town, over the past twenty years, Etna has re-emerged as a residential community with a highly diversified business base. Within its borders are over 160 businesses ranging from good-sized industrial firms to smaller, family-owned retail and consumer outlets”(etnaborough.org).

We were fortunate to be joined by the borough manager, Mary Ellen Ramage and the Chairman, Peter Ramage. Both lifelong residents of Etna, they were knowledge about the town and passionate about its future.

Borough Manager Mary Ellen Ramage shares Etna's Green Plan with the tour.

Borough Manager Mary Ellen Ramage shares Etna’s Green Plan with the tour.

The borough currently has a Green Plan in place that will utilize green infrastructure throughout the community. Situated along the Allegheny River, and its own Little Pine Creek, Etna is faced with flooding problems. Both residents and the borough have had to deal with flooding in their buildings. The Green Plan has already spurred a few green infrastructure projects in town.

Our first stop on the tour was the streetscape that Etna is constructing on Butler Street, their main business district. With a grant from Growing Greener, Etna is transforming a one block area into an efficient stormwater project. Trees, decorative grates and underground storage make up the streetscape and promote infiltration into the ground. Decorative grates allow the water to flow through the sidewalk into the storage tanks. The tanks will retain the runoff from between 2 and 5 year 1 hour storms from the surrounding rooftops of businesses. The local businesses have rerouted their downspouts so they flow into the system. Tree pits add aesthetic value and will absorb rainwater.

Etna's streetscape along Butler Street.

Etna’s streetscape along Butler Street.

Next, we stopped at a few gardens along Butler Street. The Garden Club of Etna is very active and maintains beautiful gardens throughout the borough. While not technically green infrastructure projects, the gardens in Etna are impressive and make a great impact on the aesthetics of the town.

Etna is also home to a vibrant community garden. Members of the Presbyterian Church transformed an abandoned lot into the garden. Their goal was to produce food for the two local food banks. Today, the community garden is an impressive one that donates an abundant amount of food to the food banks each season.

From there, our tour stopped at a parking lot that has also transformed into a green infrastructure project. Situated at the bottom of a steep street, the parking lot had a lot of runoff issues. A unique rain garden, the only one with its design in Western PA, was installed. The design exceeded expectations of the borough and its engineer, absorbing all of the water from a major storm in 24 hours.

Under Etna's Green Plan, this lot will be transformed into an urban park.

Under Etna’s Green Plan, this lot will be transformed into an urban park.

Throughout the tour, we saw many rain barrels in action. The borough purchased several for their own use and they have a rain barrel program in place for residents to purchase one and receive a discount on their water bill.

Our final stop on the tour was the rain garden at the community pool in Etna. In 2013, Etna hosted a rain garden workshop where attendees learned about rain gardens and witnessed the creation of one. Sara Madden, Design Manager of Stormworks, joined us on the tour to explain the process of designing and installing the rain garden. Sara was part of the workshop day that led to the creation of this rain garden. Today that rain garden is 180 square feet and takes in water from the roof of the pool building.

Etna's community garden provides food to the two local food banks.

Etna’s community garden provides food to the two local food banks.

The borough of Etna has made great strides in fixing their stormwater issues. Making green infrastructure a priority, they have brought additional community benefits to the area. Etna is not done with improvements to the community. Their Green Plan will extend to other parts of the borough and will continue to bring about benefits. We are excited to witness Etna’s continued success.

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Nine Mile Run Watershed Walking Tour

The Clean Rivers Campaign has partnered with Venture Outdoors to create a series of walking tours called the Neighborhood Eco Walking Tour series. Each tour is an opportunity for anyone to learn more about green infrastructure and how it can benefit a community.

CRC kicked off the series with a tour in Millvale, PA last month.  You can read about that tour in our last blog post, here.

The tour begins at the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association's office in Wilkinsburg.

The tour begins at the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association’s office in Wilkinsburg.

Last Saturday, we held our second tour in the Nine Mile Run watershed. As a partner organization in the Clean Rivers Campaign, the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association (NMRWA) has been working to stop water pollution and solve multiple community needs by investing in green solutions. NMRWA was formed in 2001 out of a community based project that organized the largest US urban stream restoration completed in 2006 by the Army Corps of Engineers. The watershed, covering 6.5 miles, is located in Pittsburgh’s East End. Home to many exciting initiatives, NMRWA complements an amazing physical transformation with a variety of innovative urban ecology projects designed to directly involve the community in helping to improve the health of the watershed.

Those projects include Stormworks, Greenlinks and monitoring work. A division of NMRWA, Stormworks provides simple stormwater management solutions to area residents. From rain containers to rain gardens, Stormworks created and installed several of the projects that were part of our tour.

A sign at the permeable pavement on Trenton Avenue explains how the installation works.

A sign at the permeable pavement on Trenton Avenue explains how the installation works.

After some brief introductions at the NMRWA office, the tour took time to learn about Stormworks’ new rain container, the Hydra. You can read more about the slim and innovative design of the Hydra at NMRWA’s blog, here. Holding 116 gallons of water, the Hydra will catch rain water before it can enter our sewer system and eliminate runoff on owners’ properties.

The tour stops at the permeable pavement, installed by Stormworks, on Trenton Avenue.

The tour stops at the permeable pavement, installed by Stormworks, on Trenton Avenue.

 

The tour then moved a few feet from the office to a section of permeable pavement at the corner of Trenton Ave and Biddle Ave in Wilkinsburg. NMRWA installed this permeable pavement several years ago to reduce the runoff into Trenton Ave and the rest of the watershed. Made from recycled rubber tires, the several feet of pavement doesn’t interrupt pedestrian or residential traffic. The durability of the material was evident in comparison to the surrounding cracked and broken pieces of concrete.

NMRWA employee, Sara explains how the stormwater planter at Biddle's Escape works.

NMRWA employee Sara explains how the stormwater planter at Biddle’s Escape works.

Next, the tour stepped across the street to Biddle’s Escape coffee shop. There, Stormworks installed a stormwater planter last summer. Similar to a rain garden, a stormwater planter contains plants that effectively absorb rain water. The plants are housed in a container that rests on the ground. This project was great for Biddle’s Escape as they do not have land where a rain garden could have been installed. The building’s downspout empties into the planter to quench the plants and divert the water from running off into the street. Joe, the owner of Biddle’s Escape, joined the tour to talk about the shop and the different events they offer. Stormworks was able to work with Joe to complete the rain planter and add another stormwater solution to the community.

A few of the street trees that tour participants learned about.

A few of the street trees that tour participants learned about.

The tour moved on to visit a few street trees in Wilkinsburg. NMRWA’s Greenlinks program was founded in 2003 and seeks to improve the community greenspaces and urban forest of the Nine Mile Run watershed. Since its inception, GreenLinks has added nearly 900 trees to the watershed, which are actively managing thousands of gallons of stormwater runoff each year. Tour participants were able to stop at a few trees to learn how they manage stormwater as well as the threats that they often face. In the US, many trees have been affected by the Emerald Ash Borer, a beetle that kills Ash trees. NMRWA has been working hard to mitigate the effects of this problem by looking for alternative tree species that will thrive and continue to benefit the watershed.

A great shot of Janis' beautiful rain garden!

A great shot of Janis’ beautiful rain garden!

Participants travelled just a few blocks to learn about two rain gardens in the area. A watershed resident, Janis, joined the tour to talk about the rain garden that was installed at her home. Several years ago, Janis purchased her home and had to remove a large tree from her yard. The roots of the tree and the shape of her yard created runoff problems for Janis. She contacted Stormworks and they were able to install a rain garden that wraps around the side of her home. Solving the runoff problems and adding aesthetic appeal to Janis’ yard, (at one-third the price of conventional landscaping!), the rain garden has proved itself beneficial. With minimal maintenance, Janis is able to enjoy her garden fully.

The rain garden on Braddock Avenue in front of the Biddle building.

The rain garden on Braddock Avenue in front of the Biddle building.

Finally, the tour stopped at a rain garden located in front of the Biddle Building, on Braddock Ave, next to the tennis courts. Also installed by Stormworks, the garden has absorbed rain runoff on the park’s campus for a number of years. Here, tour participants also learned about NMRWA’s monitoring work. To ensure the organization’s past work to restore Nine Mile Run’s water quality, they have efforts in place to monitor the quality of the water on a monthly basis. Overall, they have seen the quality continue to improve. Just a few years ago, only a few fish could be found in the waters of Nine Mile Run. Today, thousands of fish, from many different species, can be found thriving in the water. This is a tremendously good sign that the water quality has been restored in the run.

The tour’s 20 participants were able to learn a lot from many different types of green infrastructure projects that have now been in place for an extended period of time. The balance of residential and commercial properties on the tour allowed participants to image what might be possible in their homes and communities.

As you may know, this tour is part of a series. Running through September, a tour will be offered on the last Saturday of every month, each in a different area of the Pittsburgh region. Next up, we will visit Etna to learn about their green infrastructure projects. You can find out more or register by visiting: http://cleanriverscampaign.org/get-involved/upcoming-events/. Please contact Sarah at speterson@ninemilerun.org with any questions.

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