South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

ALCOSAN urges residents to keep leaves out of sewers


Last updated 11/4/2021 at 10:30am

As the changing of the seasons brings fallen leaves, many residents take to their yard to rake leaves, prune plants, and prep gardens for winter.

While these chores are essential for a healthy yard and garden, taking the extra step to bag or compost leaves and yard debris will improve the performance of our storm drains when it rains.

More than 25,000 storm drains are spread across Pittsburgh’s streets to capture stormwater and redirect it into our sewer system. When it rains, leaves, grass clippings, trash, pet waste, fertilizer, and other pollutants left on the ground are washed away by stormwater into storm drains.

Debris like leaves, grass clippings, and trash can block and clog storm drains, preventing stormwater from entering the sewer system. This can cause water to pond on the street, which presents safety hazards for vehicles and pedestrians. This flooding can also damage homes and businesses.

In some areas of the city, dedicated storm sewer pipes carry water directly to our streams and rivers. In other areas, stormwater enters combined sewer pipes and mixes with sewage on its way to ALCOSAN, the regional wastewater treatment facility. However, rainstorms often overwhelm the combined sewer system, causing stormwater and untreated sewage to overflow into our streams and rivers.

When pollutants carried by stormwater enter the rivers and streams, they harm local water quality, public health, fish and wildlife, and recreation.

PWSA and the City of Pittsburgh are working together to reduce local flooding and river pollution by sweeping streets, removing debris from storm drains, and constructing new green infrastructure that captures, filters, and holds stormwater.

This fall, after raking leaves and grass clippings, either compost them at home or put them in a paper bag at the curb for pickup during the City’s scheduled Yard Debris Pickup Day – taking place November 13.


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