Flood Rescue on the Scene: Preliminary “Green First” Plan Unveiled

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-2-51-00-pm“Anywhere we have the word ‘Run’, we have floods.”

That’s how Mayor Bill Peduto described the problem to City Council today, at a special meeting on flooding called by Councilor Darlene Harris. Peduto came prepared with a preliminary “green first” stormwater plan and the backing of about eight Departmental officials.

By the end of this year, they intend to finalize a plan that will both “keep water from ever being able to get into the system, and make our rivers cleaner.”

The plan consists of engineering in seven primary “action areas” including Negley Run, Four Mile Run, Sawmill Run and Streets Run for increased green infrastructure: restoring streams and lakes, wetlands, rain gardens and bioswales, while skirting both development and future development. In addition to mitigating flooding, it is supposed to help the Alcosan comply with a 2007 federal order to separate wastewater from stormwater.

The plan would take 5-10 years to implement, and the price would be born largely by water ratepayers — at some eye-popping figures:

Washington Boulevard/Negley Run 

  • Moderate Control:  234 impervious acres managed, $76 – $100 million
  • High Control: 614 impervious acres managed, $200 – $260 million

Four Mile Run/Junction Hollow 

  • Moderate Control: 78 impervious acres managed, $25 – $34 million
  • High Control: 218 impervious acres managed, $70- $90 million

Some of those ratepayers already had advocates waving signs and signaling discontent over the expense.

Councilor O’Connor focused remarks on how the work would help spur over 1,000 jobs, many of them permanent — and how there are universities and nonprofits ready to partner in some of the work. The Almono development, for example, appears poised to deal with some of the runoff from Four Mile Run.

Councilor Gross pointed out that unlike some other cities, our City Code does not yet address green infrastructure — meaning, in addition to public investments, a lot of the necessary stormwater might be dealt with by residents and businesses if they are required to provide a little basic stormwater management.

Left unasked was the degree to which the costs of this “green-first” approach might realize offsets and savings from Alcosan’s original “gray-first” stormwater plans, consisting mainly of vast underground holding tanks, by pursuing a greener track instead. Although much of the storm water in the region drains towards Pittsburgh, Alcosan has limited power to mandate or organize work in any of the surrounding municipalities, making green-first a challenge.


NOTE: The storm water issue is mostly separate from the drinking water issue.

12 thoughts on “Flood Rescue on the Scene: Preliminary “Green First” Plan Unveiled

  1. Team Newked Pittsburgh

    Between the flooding and potholes all throughout the city, they really need to do something about it. I’m not trying to get too political here but I can see Marijuana becoming legal in PA just based on the revenues it produces to the state. Colorado has fixed all of their roadways etc from the billions of dollars in tax revenue from legalizing weed. We just saw a few more states legalize it and its only a matter of time when the big shots realize that its a cash cow and it is a great way to get revenue to fix ordinary problems such as floods, roadways in the city. Those are just my opinion anyway.

    1. Ginzberg

      Ha. There was that funny Trailer Park Boys episode where they rolled a driveway with hash to camouflage it from the cops. Maybe we can fill the potholes with fortified hemp.

  2. MH

    I sincerely wish you to be legally stoned as often as you like, but maybe find somebody who isn’t high to look at the numbers. Colorado weed sales (not taxes, just all sales) is only going to be about a billion dollars this year. Tax revenue is of course only a fraction of sales.

  3. Anon

    Will be interesting to see what Peduto does in the race to fill Rudiak’s seat. Anything less than a full endorsement of Deemer is a rejection of Rudiak and endorsement of Coghill. The problem for Peduto is that Coghill is one thousand percent “old Pittsburgh” and old back room deals politics. So the question is whether Peduto is more interested in power and politics or policy and progressive path. Time will tell which side he chooses.

    1. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

      I’m just struck again by how narrow and precarious was City Council’s progressive majority. And wonder whether Rudiak’s retirement was in part a reflection on that majority’s lack of support. I was hoping by now the ACDC would be done as a force in primaries. Naive.

      1. Anon

        Probably also depends on one’s concept of what it means to be progressive. For example, is it progressive to follow the old model of government in Pgh and appoint a white dude as chief of staff and the URA and lean on developers for donations? And the moneyed corporate interests will always find a way to work through the system. Whatever becomes an unchallenged narrative can also be used as a tool. For example, it is becoming pretty well known that property owners and business interests on Walnut Street and other nearby business districts are applying pressure on elected officials to stunt growth in E. Liberty. Competition drives rents down. Monopoly drives rents up. which one is progressive? Some of those same developers are applying pressure to make the permitting process more complicated and use PWSA to stop new apartment projects for the same reason. I’m not being snarky, which is progressive? While there are new high rent apartments going up all over the city, that building boom has also driven rents down in all the old stock of apartments. Just that no one likes to write about that.

  4. anon

    So now Peduto is the nominee of the secretive party apparatus. And – under him – they are now trying to punish people who go against the committee. Boy have times changed.

    1. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

      Any intel on this punishment would be greatly appreciated.

      Just caught a rumor that Rich Fitzgerald is supporting Anthony Coghill in Rudiak’s old district. Big, if true.

      1. Mike

        The Fitz support of Coghill is 100% true. Peduto will lay low and support Coghill behind the scenes. But Fitz and Pedutes travel as a team. Peduto not endorsing and raising money for Deemer is support for Coghill. Watch it unfold.

  5. Ginzberg

    1,000 jobs. Coincidentally, the same employment estimate for the vaccine manufacturing plant that failed to materialize at Almono. At least La Gourmandine is opening down there Monday. 998 jobs to go, give or take.


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